While we don’t know exactly what objects were used, casting lots was a way of discerning God’s decision in a particular circumstance. It was akin to rolling dice (Proverbs 16:33 says they were cast into the lap) and believing that the results of a certain roll were an indication of God’s decision. Whether that was actually something God participated in is anyone’s guess, but it was believed and practiced.
This article is pretty good in describing it and listing the places in the Bible where it occurs: https://carm.org/what-casting-lots-in-the-bible
. There are many more Old Testament references to it than there are references in the New Testament, so it’s likely that the practice wasn’t used in any formal way in the early church.
Rev. Anne Robertson - Executive Director - Massachusetts Bible Society
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