Was gambling approved of in Bible times?

Some have wondered if casting lots in the Bible is a form of gambling. Lots were used to assign tribal lands (Numbers 26:55), to rotate offices (1 Chronicles 24:5), to identify law offenders (Jonah 1:7), and to select replacements (Acts 1:26). This was not gambling, for no money was wagered in these transactions. It also involved no chance. God was in control of the process and determined the outcome. Solomon wrote, “The lot is cast into the lap: but the whole disposing thereof is of Jehovah” (Proverbs 16:33). 

God has authorized four ways to make money or gain possessions:

The Law of Labor.Working to earn a living is honorable. From the Garden of Eden until the Lord returns, men are to work for their food. God told Adam, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground…” (Genesis 3:19). God commanded the Israelites, “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work” (Exodus 20:9). The New Testament says, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good…” (Ephesians 4:28). Again Paul wrote, “For even when we were with you, this we command you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The law of labor (physical or mental) is the primary means to earn money and possessions.

The Law of Exchange (2 Samuel 24:24). This refers to the buying and selling of goods. A commodity is bought with money or goods in order to purchase something needed.

The Law of Loan (Deuteronomy 23:20).This law is the practice of borrowing with the principle and interest being due on a certain time schedule. This practice is the buying of a service; the service is paid for by interest.

The Law of Love. This law is when something is given as a gift without any expectation of something in return. Jesus stated the law in principle: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:34). Gifts may be given to one’s family, friends, orphans, widows, or anyone you love.

It is easily observable that gambling fits in none of these categories. One writer says, “In principle gambling is no different from taking one’s money or goods from him by skill, talent, training, or trick. This makes gambling essentially stealing.” —adapted from Gilbert Gough

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