God ran the Lottery: Chapter 21, Shocked by the Bible

In this chapter, Joe Kovacs brings up to controversial topic of gambling. What he points out is that there was gambling throughout the Bible. This gambling came in the form of casting lots. What Kovacs does a great job of point out though, is that nearly every place we see the lot used it is being cast to determine a decision or the will of God about a specific matter. The only place in Scripture, as he noted, where we see the lot being cast to gain something of monetary value is at the cross when the Roman soldiers cast lots to determine who would get Jesus’ tunic.

Kovacs even wrote, “While the Bible contains instances of God’s people casting lots, there is no account of a modern lottery with a large cash jackpot.” On this point Kovacs is absolutely correct. There is no direct condemnation of gambling in the Scriptures. However, any argue that the Scripture contains principles that would preclude Christians from partaking in gambling.

The first question that needs to be answered is what motivates people to gamble? The answer most people give and the most obvious answer is to win. That is the whole object in gambling is it not? You wager a bet that you can accomplish something and win the wager. It doesn’t matter what the “game” is, that is what it’s about. Whether it be poker (wagering you have the best hand), the lottery (wagering you can pick the numbers that will be drawn), or whatever else—you are playing to win. The rules are determined and the wager set—then you play.

There is an example of this type of gambling in the Old Testament and it reveals a lot about why Christians should or should not be involved in gambling. Judges 14 records a “bet” that Samuel made with the Philistines. What was the bet? Samson wagered that the Philistines could not solve his riddle within seven days. The rules were determined and the wager set. What was the result? The Philistines could not solve the riddle on their own so they asked Samson’s wife to find out the answer. She got the answer from Samson and told the Philistines and so they won the bet against Samson. But the story doesn’t end there. Samson gets angry with the Philistines because he basically felt like they cheated. Rather than fulfill the wager out of his own pocket and provide the prize of thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes (because he felt cheated), he went down to a Philistine city and killed thirty of their countrymen to provide the prize. Sound like it was all fun and games?

This motivating factor to win in gambling is the problem. It is the driving force of greed. This is what the Bible was condemning in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

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