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Is casting Lots to be used today? What of a Fleece and the Urim and Thumim?

The custom of deciding questions by lot is found in antiquity; both Jews and non - Jews would appeal to the Almighty through various lots to decide a decision. What they were not used for is to divine the future.

The word lot Heb. goral, a "pebble"; hebel, "measuring line, portion"; Gr. lanchano, to "cast lots," Luke 1:9; kleros, "pebble, bit of wood. The bible is not specific on the actual lots used. Their exact type is not mentioned, we can only go by the words used. They could have been sticks of various lengths, or different types of flat stones.

The Jews ritual use was religious, to directly determine a decision. Used as a choice of men for an invading force (Judges 1:1-3, 20:9); of Jerusalem, dividing its spoil or captives among captors, apportionment of possessions, or spoil. (Obad. 11; Joel 3:3; Nah. 3:10; Matt. 27:35). To proportion the land, or inheritance (Deut. 32:9; Josh. 15:1; 1 Chr. 16:18; Pss. 105:11; 125:3 Isa. 17:14; 57:6; Acts 8:21; cf. Acts 13:19). Used in settlement of doubtful questions Prov. 16:33; 18:18, detecting a criminal possibly (Josh. 7:14), appointment of persons to offices or duties, such as the priests (Luke 1:9).

Lots were used a bit differently among heathen, they divined by means of arrows, two inscribed and one without mark (Ezek. 21:21). "For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the road, at the fork of the two roads, to use divination: he shakes the arrows, he consults the images, he looks at the liver. "In his right hand is the divination for Jerusalem: to set up battering rams, to call for a slaughter, to lift the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to heap up a siege mound, and to build a wall.

"And it will be to them like a false divination in the eyes of those who have sworn oaths with them; but he will bring their iniquity to remembrance, that they may be taken.

The selection of the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement was decided by lot (Lev 16:8,10)

Lev. 16:8 "Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat

Lots were not cards or dice etc.. It was probably a short or long stick, it was not to seek the future but to decide which will live and which will die.

Prov. 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

Prov. 18:18 Casting lots causes contentions to cease, and keeps the mighty apart.

God at times instructed them to do this. It was a way to decide.

Casting lots was not used to tell the future.

partition of the land among the tribes Num. 26:55; Josh. 18:10; Isa 34:17 He has cast the lot for them, and His hand has divided it among them with a measuring line. They shall possess it forever; from generation to generation they shall dwell in it."

Joel 3:3 They have cast lots for My people, have given a boy as payment for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink.”

Land and Tribes were sometimes divided by lots.

Num 26:55 "But the land shall be divided by lot; they shall inherit according to the names of the tribes of their fathers.

Josh 18:10 Then Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions.

Josh 19:51 These were the inheritances which Eleazar the priest, Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel divided as an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So they made an end of dividing the country.”

This division was used in Book of Numbers (Num. 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; 36:2).

1 Chron 6:61 “To the rest of the family of the tribe of the Kohathites they gave by lot ten cities from half the tribe of Manasseh. V.65

Ezek 45:1 "Moreover, when you divide the land by lot into inheritance, you shall set apart a district for the LORD, a holy portion of the land; its length shall be twenty-five thousand cubits, and the width ten thousand. It shall be holy throughout its territory all around.

One of the more memorable times lots were used by the sailors to determine who brought God's wrath on their ship Jonah was on (Jon. 1:7).

One should be careful not to turn it into a method or prognostication tool to determine the will of God in all we do or the future. They were used as the bible was being developed and became less used and dependent upon as time progressed.

Lots are mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament but only three time in the New Testament (once before Christ was born in Lk.1:9). Once used by the Romans; Ex: when they had to decide who would get Jesus garments as he was being crucified. John 19:24: “They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: "They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” So this fulfilled prophecy but was not prophetic in the act.

The last time lots were used for a decision, and only time we see a lot used after Christ instated the new covenant was just before the Holy Spirit was given to the church, (Acts 1:25-26). The disciples were to choose a replacement for the apostolic position that Judas fell by transgression. V. 26 “And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

After the Holy Spirit was given to all believers through the gospel lots were not used or mentioned again.


Gideon used a fleece when he was not confident he was hearing from the Lord, as he chosen to save Israel. So he told God he Judges 6:37:"look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said. "It was still not enough that he reversed it to be absolutely sure that he was chosen to do this . V.39

Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew."

This is not like rolling dice and getting 7’s or 11’s. We do not see this as a standard practice, it was used only by Gideon. Many unique ways and means God used in the Old Testament that were used once, and were never repeated (like Joshua.s conquest of Jericho and the trumpet being blown)

U'rim, thum'im

It is mentioned seven times in the Old Testament (Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8; Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65; Deuteronomy 33:8; Numbers 27:21; 1 Samuel 28:6 — i the latter two passages "Urim" is used by itself.). In these passages the Urim and Thummim are presented as a means of divine revelation, associated with the garments of the High Priest, the ephod and breastplate.

It had limited use -- to inquire from the Lord on things that may not have been written. Means "lights and perfections". Answering yes and no questions. The very word "light" shows if the answer was yes, it would light up; if the answer was no, it would not light up.

"the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron's heart when he goes in before the Lord" So Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually (Exo. 28:30; Num. 27:21; 1 Sam. 28:6)

Lev 8:8 Then he put the breastplate on him, and he put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastplate.” The breastplate of the high priest had numerous stones that most believe were to light up to answer yes and no questions.

The Priests breastplate were made of twelve precious jewels combined specifically together in four rows of three. Some think the Urim and Thummim consisted of three stones, on one of which was written Yes, on another No, whereas the third was left neutral or blank. These were used as lots were, and the high priest decided according as the one or the other was drawn out. Possibly used directly from the rows on the breastplate.

After numbering and recording the genealogy of those who returned to Jerusalem and Judah from Babylonian captivity, it is the last mention of the Urim and Thummim,

Neh 7:65 And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim.

This consulting continued to Ezra’s time, as God gave judges and prophets the priest with Urim and Thummim was no longer consulted as it were before (Ezra 2:63; Neh. 7:65).

The Urim and Thummin are not found in use after the time of David (about 1,000 BC.) This was used for the high priest in the tabernacle in the wilderness not the temple. No one in the New Testament period used the Urim and Thummim.

Since the tabernacle is gone and Jesus is now the eternal high priest all this is inoperative.

Today we have God within us, as He dwelt in the Old Testament Tabernacle. We have direct access through the work and blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.

God wants us to be mature, sensitive to his spirit and know his word so we will not seek him in aberrant ways but in the way He gave through the new covenant.

2 Pet. 1:21: “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” God used dreams and visions occasionally but more often spoke directly to foretell the future.

Heb. 1:1-2: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son”

God used various means in ancient days but today he wants believers to be mature in the word and depend on knowing him to do His will.


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