Pastoral Letter 27 Feb 2022
My dear readers,
Who Really Has the Final Say?
Proverbs 16:33: “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.”
Words like “luck” or “lucky” are commonly used, sometimes even by believers, probably out of habit. But is there really such a thing as luck, be it good or bad? “Luck” is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a force that brings good fortune or adversity.”
People who use “luck” (whether bad or good) believe in a force that is outside of God. It is a matter of chance that has no one controlling it. It is a force that is absolutely arbitrary. Gamblers and superstitious people cling on to this “luck” concept that drives them onward in their covetousness even though they might be losing greatly. They cannot stop believing that “good luck” will come their way soon after such a long period of “bad luck.” They keep on hoping even when it is against all hope until they lose everything. Not a few have lost their life savings, families, freedom and even their lives because they believed in luck. Luck and their greed propel them toward this deadly abyss like a giant catapult.
Some try to control “luck” by cheating. They believe it is right to control this unknown force behind “luck” by steering it in their favour. This is often done by gamblers and all superstitious individuals. To those who believe in “luck,” some days are considered as bad days to travel or marry or to open their business. They look for “good” days to avoid “bad luck.” This fear of “bad luck” striking them or their business or their lives and loved ones has been the “force” that controls many lives. They dare not travel. They dare not leave their homes. They change appointments.
Believing in “luck” has nothing to do with a person’s IQ or wealth status. There are many brilliant and successful individuals who are fearful of death and bad things in life. They fear being struck by them and lose everything. Are you included in this group of fearful superstitious individuals?
As children of God, we cannot believe in luck. There is no such thing as luck! The LORD our God is in absolute control of everything and everyone in heaven and on earth. Nothing occurs without His knowledge and permission. Proverbs 16:33 teaches us this valuable truth to help us live rightly with the peace of God keeping our hearts. The literal translation of Proverbs 16:33 is: “Into the lap is cast the lot but from the LORD are all its judgments.”
Casting a lot to do business, to resolve conflicts or to determine the will of God was common in biblical times. This helped to avoid bitter arguments. For example, before the division of the Promised Land to the nine-and-a-half tribes that had defeated the Canaanites, all the tribes were numbered to determine their sizes. The larger tribe would have a larger portion of the Promised Land. However, who was to live in the mountain or in the plains or on the coast near the Mediterranean Sea had to be decided by lot. This was the LORD’s decision. Numbers 33:54: “And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: and to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man's inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit.” This method of decision-making removed all arguments and complaints. The Israelites knew that the LORD would decide by lot. They had been told that they were tenants and not owners of the Land. The LORD is the only true Owner of the Land. By lot, the LORD chose for His people their portion of the Promised Land.
Remember how the mariners (in Jonah 1) cast lots to decide who the culprit was who provoked such a fierce storm such that their ship was about to sink? Jonah 1:7: “And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.” Thus, Jonah was thrown into the sea and the storm ceased almost immediately. The mariners became believers of the LORD through Jonah’s disobedience, and the casting of lots identified Jonah as the cause of the storm. When lot casting was done honestly, the people accepted the decisions readily. The people of God saw it as from the hand of the LORD.
When the lot was cast, all parties concerned must see how the lot fell so as to know what the final outcome was. If it was hidden to all but the person who cast the lot, the latter could lie in his favour. What would happen to cheaters? These cheaters were powerful and would get away with it, and the weak ones who were cheated would have no recourse for justice. They would feel aggrieved and bitter. They needed to be assured by the LORD that even when these cheaters tampered with the lots, the final outcome, i.e. judgment, was of the LORD. The LORD cannot be cheated. His will can never be thwarted by sinful men. Imagine a scenario where the cheaters can overcome the will of God by cheating. Would it not mean that they are more powerful than God? The omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence of God would cease to exist. These evil ones would be considered to be better and more powerful than God if they can control an outcome outside of God’s sovereign will! This is impossible as Proverbs 16:33 assures us!
This truth comforts the hearts of the ones who are cheated. All of us have been cheated in some form by someone in life. It may not be by lot but by some other means! The lot here represents the decision of man. We feel sore and very foolish and extremely regretful. But the pain and hurt can be crippling. Unless we see the higher hand of God in the loss, peace of mind will not return and the regret and bitterness will not cease. The moment we realize that the final judgment is of the LORD, then peace will descend from heaven into our soul. We will know that even this loss is good for us, for our LORD Jesus Christ is the One who has judged so and not the cheater.
The good might not be known right there and then, but it does not matter. We will have learned a more precious spiritual truth, and that is the sovereignty of God in our lives. We have learned to trust the LORD even in the face of evil men and their wickedness. For example, we have been cheated of the deposit paid for a long-awaited holiday. But the travel agency went bankrupt and the deposit was lost. The trip has to be cancelled because of lack of funds. We would not know that if we had gone on that trip we could fall, or get hurt, or get beaten up, or meet with an accident, or succumb to temptation; but because the LORD kept us at home, the “calamity” was avoided. There could be a million and one reasons why the LORD decided to redirect our lives. We need to trust Him, that He knows what is best for us as we live for Him.
This truth must put the fear of God into the hearts of those who cheat. They feel safe because they have escaped the long arm of the law and gotten away with their ill-gotten gains. But they need to know that the LORD knows who they are and what they have done, every single evil act. They will never escape the judgment of the LORD. They can plan and plot in the hidden dark recesses of their evil hearts believing that they are invincible and untouchable. They have experienced one success after another and have become wealthy and powerful because their ill-gotten gains have bought them power. They have surrounded themselves with an invisible force-field of protection through their high-powered connections to rulers and authorities of this world. The truth of Proverbs 16:33 dashes this pseudo safety net. The moment they die in their sins, they will be judged by the LORD God almighty. If God shows them mercy, He will judge them here on earth to give them time to repent and turn from their sinful cheating ways.
Nothing is, or can be, hidden from the LORD because the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD! Amen.
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew