Lord Over Chance

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

- Proverbs 16:33

One of the many consequences of sin is our tendency to make God in our image. Instead of maintaining the Creator—creature distinction, we often think of the Lord in merely human terms, as if He is just like us, only much stronger and smarter.

Certainly, there are important ways that God is like us, or rather, important ways that we are like God. after all, the bible says we are made in the Lord’s image (Gen. 1:26–27). For example, Scripture regularly speaks of God as thinking, considering, developing plans, and so forth; such language is only appropriate if God has a mind that in at least some way is the model for our minds. Still, it is clear that although the Lord can “think,” He does not think in the same way that we do. God’s mind is infinite. He can perceive every eventuality, and He knows things immediately, without having to make logical conclusions based on available evidence like we do. The Lord is not a being who is merely a lot bigger than we are; rather, there are differences between Him and us that are inherent to who He is as God.

Proverbs 16:33 makes this point indirectly by reminding us that for the Lord, there is no such thing as randomness or chance. We are accustomed to dealing with circumstances and events that appear to be mere coincidences. We regularly face events that seem to have no logical explanation, that appear simply to happen with no rhyme or reason. In light of this, it is easy to assume that God sees things in the same way. It is easy to think that for Him there is such a thing as chance. Yet this is not the case. Using the example of the lot, which was cast in the ancient world in order to determine the divine will on certain matters, Proverbs 16:33 shows that there is no ultimate randomness in the world. even outcomes that seem to be pure chance, such as the casting of a lot—a modern equivalent might be the throwing of a pair of dice—are divinely ordained.

Since the casting of lots was, in certain circumstances, an approved means of discerning the Lord’s will in ancient Israel (Lev. 16:8), it would have been no surprise to the Israelites who first read Proverbs that God determined the outcome when lots were used in the appropriate fashion by the Israelites. but Proverbs 16:33 is a universal text, extending even to the casting of lots by pagans in the name of their gods or to the casting of lots in a nonreligious context. The Lord ultimately governs even those apparently “chance” events. There is no outcome outside of that which He has sovereignly ordained (Eph. 1:11).

Coram Deo

Dr. R.C. Sproul has often said that there is no such thing as a “maverick molecule,” and Proverbs 16:33 is one of many passages that show this to be the case. What might look random and unplanned to us does not lie outside of the Lord’s sovereign control. He directs all things, which is greatly comforting. It assures us that He has a plan and purpose for every event, demonstrating that He can indeed work all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

Passages for Further Study

Joshua 18:1–10
1 Chronicles 26:1–19
Jonah 1:1–16
Acts 1:12–26

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