During my first systematic theology class of the day we were entering chapter 47 on church government and discussing the offices of the church. While covering the office of apostle during the early days of the church we were led by our chapter to Acts 1:21-26. The apostles are replacing Judas according to the instructions in the Scriptures. Note how they replace Judas. Here is the passage:
So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:21-26 ESV)
Now, the Holy Spirit had not yet been sent by the Lord Jesus to indwell the Lord’s people, and this is the final time in the Scriptures where the casting of lots was used to determine the Lord’s will. The reason is that the church would then have the Holy Spirit to give discernment and direction to his people, therefore, no longer needing lots.
Think with me for a minute. Did these people really believe that the Lord would be so specific as to give direction through the throwing of some kind of dice? Does the Lord actually have power over how dice land? Really? My naturalistic, fallen and skeptical mind wants to think that just a tool of lesser evolved people who just didn’t quite get it and used religion as their way of making decisions they didn’t have the courage to make themselves. Sin, I know. But my mind wants to go there. I’m still being sanctified. Pardon my questions. Pardon my unbelief.
But here is the really cool thing. They did believe that. And they were not wrong. Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap but its every decision is from the Lord.” These guys knew the story of Joseph and the “chance” of Joseph showing back up to rescue them. The writers of Scripture tell that Joseph story in Psalm 105:16-22 as the Lord sending Joseph to Egypt. Joseph himself says in Genesis 50:20 that what his brothers meant for evil that God meant it for good. Could it be that the Lord cares about all the little details of our lives down to how dice land, and how we get to locations in order to rescue some people some years later? You bet he does!
This gives me great hope. There are no coincidences or chances with Father. There is no “lucking out”. Father promises to work for our good down to how dice land. Even better, he has given us Holy Spirit to know his way right down to the last letter. Father cares for the details and is working for our good in the details. So, “Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:5). “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-30). Do what is right, rest in the Lord, trust him for the ends. He really does rule the dice.