March 27 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“These are the territories that Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel assigned by lot at Shiloh in the presence of the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. And so they finished dividing the land.” ~Joshua 19:51

Land allotment for the final seven tribes is determined by casting lots. The idea, of course, is for the entire region from Transjordan (the land to the east of Jordan) to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to be restored by the presence of God’s people.  Yesterday’s devotion noted that casting lots is a practice similar in effect to drawing straws. In practice, it is more comparable to rolling dice. Archaeologists have uncovered small shaped stones with painted or etched markings, much like dice, that were used for games of chance. Imagine Joshua and the elders spreading a map of the newly surveyed land before them and marking each territory with a number or symbol. A cast of the lots turns up the tribe of Benjamin and a symbol that corresponds to an allotment on the map. The territory under that mark belongs to the tribe of Benjamin. Joshua continues rolling the dice until all the tribal groups have received their inheritance.

Does it seem odd that the Israelites leave allotments up to chance? It’s important to know that they didn’t see casting lots that way. For them, lots are a surrender to God’s sovereignty. Proverbs 16:33 describes a person, seated with his garment or another covering stretched across his lap, rolling the dice to make a decision. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Not all decisions were made by rolling dice, of course. Many, perhaps most, decisions were made through seeking God’s face in prayer, weighing various options, seeking wise counsel, and using common sense. However, there were situations when, everything else being equal (moral questions, wisdom issues), one simply needed to trust God with the outcome. The practice of casting lots was an ancient way of saying, Let’s just trust God with this one.

So am I suggesting we grab dice from a board game in the closet to help us make life’s important decisions? No. What I am saying is that the Israelites accepted their lot in life as from the hand of God, and we should too. Nothing is random when God is involved, and God is involved in everything. Author Ben Campbell Johnson describes His influence like this: “Most of us can look back on a number of days that were marked by a chance meeting, a phone call, an accident of circumstance, a penetrating insight, a conversation, or another of a myriad of seemingly small events that today hold special significance for us …When we recognize the influence of these occurrences it makes us wonder if under the veil of the ordinary God isn’t whispering words in our ears.”[1]

Life doesn’t have a random setting, and that is a great source of encouragement. It isn’t wrong to ask for more or for something different, but it is important to learn to trust God with (and to give Him thanks for) what we have, where we are, and what is yet to come. Trust Him with what appears to be chance, but is in fact His providential hand at work.

[1] Ben Campbell Johnson, The God Who Speaks:  Learning the Language of God (Grand Rapids, MI:   Eerdmans, 2004), 122.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.