Jonah 1:7: A Game of Chance?

Jonah 1:7 “Then the sailors said to each other, ‘Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.’ The cast lots and the let fell on Jonah.”

I’m not a big fan of gambling, and neither is my husband. But years ago, there was one particular member of our church who played the lottery regularly. He always assured us that if he won, he’d buy the church a brand new bus.

More than once I heard my husband say to that man, “I sure wish you wouldn’t throw your money away, brother. But since you choose to throw it away, I’m praying you win!”


This passage in Jonah isn’t making a case for – or against – casting lots or playing the lottery. Rather, it assures us that God is Sovereign. Most times, when a bunch of heathen sailors decided to gamble, I feel pretty certain that God stayed out of the process altogether. But in this case, He chose to intervene. The lots fell to Jonah, and that set into motion a string of events which eventually led to Jonah’s obedience, and ultimately, to the repentance of Ninevah.

Sometimes, God chooses to work in strange ways. He pursues us, just as He pursued Jonah, and He will move heaven and earth to get our attention, if needed. He will send storms and control dice and send giant sea creatures to swallow us, if that’s what it takes to bring us to Him.

The lots fell to Jonah. Coincidence? Maybe. But I don’t think so. Just as He had a purpose for Jonah, God has a purpose for each of us. We can follow Him willingly, or we can gamble with our destiny, like Jonah did. Jonah ended up with bleached-out skin from being in a whale’s belly . . . but that’s probably not going to happen to me. Then again, I’m not sure I want to take that chance . . .

Dear Father, Thank You for pursuing me even when I defy You. Please help me to obey You without a fight.


4 Responses to Jonah 1:7: A Game of Chance?

  1. August 20, 2009 #

    Another great post Renae! A lot of people would point this out as some sort of weakness of the Bible. I think it is just one more thing showing its authenticity. These guys were just as you said, “a bunch of heathen sailors.” Heck, they are men! God is the Sovereign one and we are the pathetic Sinners. That was even how they chose who was going to replace Judas as the next apostle. I’m sure these days they would have played roulette, or blackjack, or at least Indian Poker, but they threw dice! Crazy stuff, but just one more reason why I love the Word of God.

  2. August 20, 2009 #

    Thanks, Tom. You’re right. The Bible is authentic – for real people. It’s not just a lofty book of ideals. It applies to you and me right here, right where we are, flaws and all. God meets us where we are. 🙂

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. August 21, 2009 #

    Henry Blackaby says, “God’s rule is ultimate and complete. All power that exists, exists because God allows it. He is sovereign over everything, including believers, and He intends for believers to acknowledge Him before a watching world through loving obedience.

    Billions of people have watched Jonah’s story unfold and bring God glory.

    I wonder how many are watching mine and yours?


  4. August 21, 2009 #

    Good points, Jean. I hope that God’s glory unfolds through my story.

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