Rev. Klockers: Can God’s will be discovered through games of chance?
Rev. Walter Klockers
| November 18, 2020 1:00 AM
Have you ever played board games?
Proverbs 16:33 (New Revised Version of the Bible) says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is the Lord’s alone.”
After marriage, and our first child, my favorite board game soon became Pretty Pretty Princess.
Why was this so? It’s because my daughter, Naomi, wanted me to play.
The object of Pretty Pretty Princess was to get a full set of princess jewelry and the crown to win. Players earned these objects. They include a ring, bracelet, necklace, earrings and the crown. (Yes, my daughter insisted that I wear them.)
Naomi didn’t force me to play. She would request and I would oblige. All of that didn’t permanently traumatize me. Yes, truth be told, it was a bit embarrassing to wear that jewelry, but it was all for a good cause: my daughter loved it.
Years later, I had forgotten about playing this game with my daughter until she smiled and laughed as she reminisced about that time.
You could say that games of a more serious nature were “played” in Biblical times. One is referred to as “the casting of lots.”
In the Old Testament, casting lots determined outcomes or responsibilities among the twelve Tribes of Israel and, later, for temple workers.
Depending upon a group’s beliefs (i.e. Hebrews, Romans, et cetera), the outcome could be thought of as “God’s will” or merely fate.
The Prophet Jonah attempted to flee from God, who had called him to ministry to the Ninevites. Jonah tried to escape. He boarded a ship which was sailing in the opposite direction. However, they encountered a violent storm. The sailors called for a casting of lots to determine whose god was responsible for the calamity. Jonah was identified through this process.
Also, in the New Testament, casting lots determined which Roman soldier would claim Jesus’s tunic after his crucifixion.
Apparently, there were many forms of casting lots, including the use of small stones with markings on them (dice), drawing from a group of straws of varying lengths or a preselected number, to be matched by counting upheld fingers within a line of people.
The practice of casting lots fell out of favor in the early church and beyond.
One might think all that was just silly superstitions.
However, such things are still a part of our culture. In our country, a coin toss determines who first possesses the football. Also, it is not an uncommon practice used in politics (either that or drawing names from a hat or bowl).
And yes, if one looks hard enough, the game of rock-paper-scissors has been used in court at least once. (In 2006 in Florida, Federal Court Judge Gregory Presell used it to determine the location of a deposition).
For these simple games to be effective, all parties need to agree upon the rules and the outcome. When such is determined it is only a matter of seconds before an answer is given and all are instantly called to live with it.
I tend to think of God as more of a caring parent who may only “enter the game” we play to lovingly help us learn, and not like a dealer in Vegas who just deals the cards and leaves it all up to chance.
I hope you wouldn’t challenge me on this by saying “wanna bet?”
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Moses Lake and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.