How was casting lots used in the Bible?
Jonah 1:7b, 12: “They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. … ‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea,’ he replied, ‘and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.’”
Many modern-day Christians frown on casting lots as they regard it as a form of gambling. However, in the ancient world, casting lots was widely used as a way of discovering the will of the gods/God. God instructed the Israelites to cast lots for various reasons – assigning temple duties, assigning land, etc. (Joshua, Numbers, 1 Chronicles). Those who relied on casting lots believed that the result was controlled by God (Proverbs 16:33).
In Jonah’s case, he and the sailors all accepted that the result reflected God’s decision, and he offered himself to be thrown into the sea.
However, post-Pentecost, Christians need not cast lots to discern God’s will as we have the indwelling Holy Spirit as well as the written scriptures to guide us.