God’s G amble


‘OPEN THEISTS’ TEACH THAT GOD CANNOT KNOW THE FUTURE. He gave human beings a true free will, so if God knows the future, human beings cannot truly be free. The Old Creation (the Old Testament) and the New Creation (a new humanity beginning with Christ) were thus both gigantic g ambles on God’s part. Does God g amble? After all, He commanded His priests to “throw the d ice.”

Tabernacle Two-up

The Urim and Thummim were basically a set of d ice: a black stone and a white stone, yes and no. [1] God promised to speak through this arrangement, which can be boiled down to a simplified “heads or tails.” It was Tabernacle Two-up.

For us, the future is unknown. It is a risk. We can identify and quantify all the variables and speculate on the outcomes, but never be entirely sure of how they will combine to produce the end result. If we could, we wouldn’t need crash-test dummies. We wouldn’t need insurance cover.

The Old Testament looks like a lot of risky business. Men fail Him time and time again, but God just keeps on betting the farm. What many theologians and commentators fail to notice is that as the process continues, God actually brings humanity to greater and greater maturity. He builds a house of worship out of people, brick by brick, and then bets it all—every chip—on the newcomer—His Son. To us, it seemed insane. To God, it was a sure thing. Was there ever any chance that His Son would fail?

Thrills and Spills

There is a certain thrill in risk. Gambling is addictive to some personalities; adultery and embezzlement to others. Stolen waters are temporarily sweet, but sweet nonetheless. We must remember that God actually asks His people over and over again to take ridiculous risks for Him. We will take risks for pleasure, and often the pleasure is in the risk. But will we take risks for the kingdom?

I had an online debate with some anti-religionists recently (they believe in intelligent design, but not the God of the Bible). One wrote:

“Don’t you think I have implored God/Jesus/Allah whoever to come into my heart and please, please, please help me understand? More times than I can count. I have never in my life seen or experienced an event that could be undoubtedly supernatural. Never. And believe me, if I did, I would recant every negative thing I’ve ever said about God. Maybe we all find out when we die. I don’t have a clue.”

Many Christians want the thrills without the spills. If you really want to see miracles, you have to take some risky steps of faith first. Like Peter, you must step out of the boat. Like the priests with the Ark, you have to step into the overflowing Jordan. Like Jesus, you have to NOT throw yourself from the Temple pinnacle. Missionaries get to see the miracles because they take obedient risks. In the kingdom of God there is a miracle at the centre, and miracles at the frontiers. [2]

I have a friend, who, with his wife, (both in their late 50s) came to our church with a presentation on how they were going to be missionaries in [a pacific island nation] to Hindus. The Mu***ms were seen as too difficult. A year later, everything they had planned to do had been accomplished, but not among the Hindus – among the Mu***ms. People were having dreams that brought them to Christ, and there were many miraculous occurrences, including an incident where the Spirit told someone where to fish! Hundreds if not thousands became Christians. This gent said he just felt like a spectator at what God was doing. He is a down-to-earth non-Pentecostal who doesn’t go for this sort of thing at all. And I know these people well enough personally to believe they weren’t making it up. They had pictures of new churches to prove the results. There were hardships, opposition, and miracles.

The Urim and Thummim wasn’t God’s Casino. It was a ritual of obedience that was a “calculated risk” of faith, a faith based on the Covenant. All the Old Testament risks follow the “Bible Matrix,” the Covenant pattern. Here’s a down-to-earth illustration:

At a men’s meeting at a local church, one father asked if there were any guarantees with Christian parenting. He has two daughters. One is an extremely faithful and dedicated Christian. The other threw it all away. The girls are close in age and had identical upbringings. The best answer I could think of was a reference to farming. Planting and watering is the only way to achieve a harvest. But there is no guarantee that a storm or a fire or some pestilence won’t wipe out your crop. We are just called to be faithful, to take the risk. Where the little white ball lands on the r oulette table is up to God. But He knows exactly where it is going to land from the beginning. The only guarantee is that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Resting On the Bosom of Jesus

As I think I have written around here somewhere before, the Urim and Thummim were a picture of the Holy Spirit-filled man. They were used right up until the disciples had to choose a replacement for Judas. Immediately after this, Christ sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to indwell them. They didn’t need the “dice” any more. Just as the “elder-gems” on the chest of the High Priest “surrounded” the quirky “pouch of fortune,” when the disciples gathered together, Jesus was there in their midst giving them the white stone. When we gather together, He does the same for us.

“We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” 1 John 4:6 (NKJV)

Our endeavours might look like risky g ambles, and there will be apparent failures (the history of church is a long series of victories disguised as disasters after all!). But since Pentecost, God is the ultimate match-fixer. [3] History is open in one sense (which is pictured in elective credo-baptism [4]). We have been freed from our heredity to carry out the Covenant commands in the power of God: freed to rewrite the Old Covenant history of Adam. There are risks and variables, thrills and disappointments. But we are free to play the table, work the room, attempt great (and risky) things for God. That is the freedom of Man under a sovereign God. It is a freedom bound by Covenant.

For us, that Covenant is an open scroll, but one day, Jesus will roll up it, hand it back to the Guy in charge, and sit down again.

The end is determined from the beginning. When we are united, the table is rigged in our favour. Our Father owns the casino. The last judgment is yet to come, but as far as the Father is concerned, the case is already closed. As the New Covenant comes to an end, as all Covenants do [5],  there will be the inevitable blessings and curses. And every knee shall bow. It’s a given.

We can take crazy risks—like missions, or doorknocking, or teaching the Bible to unbelieving high school students—g ambles that make the world think we have lost our minds. Returning to the insurance metaphor, we have a reliable policy, underwritten by God, with a clause for every possible contingency. The cover provided was dark red.

Open Theists might have open minds but they have closed Bibles.


[1] See the harrowing history of the Day of Atonement ritual after Christ’s ascension in A White Stone – 3 (under the subheading The Word is ‘Yes’).
[2] See Bloody Throne, Blood Frontiers.
[3] See Jesus Rigs India Election.
[4] See An Atheist Gets Baptism.
[5] See Three Resurrections – 3.

Share Button

3 Responses to “God’s G amble”

  • Rod Honeycutt Says:

    Bravo, Mike!

    I like the reference to Casino Royale.

  • Steven Opp Says:

    In another post you said dice are like testicles. Interesting how in Casino Royale Bond is tortured by the evil gambler attacking Bond’s “dice”. Coincidence? Did the writers see the same connections you did, or is this just in the air?

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Ha! No – I forgot about that scene. Perhaps they made the connection subconsciously.