Why God Hates the Lottery

The lottery is a gambling operation in which numbers are drawn to determine winners of prizes, often money or goods. It is a popular form of fundraising in many countries and is used to support a wide variety of public purposes. The word lottery derives from the Dutch noun lot meaning “fate” or “fateful event,” and its origins date to biblical times, when Moses was instructed to distribute land amongst Israel’s people by lot (Exodus 32:24).

A basic element of a lottery is some means of recording the identities of bettors and the amount of money staked. Typically, a betor writes his name on a ticket which is deposited with the lottery organizers for shuffling and selection in the drawing. Many modern lotteries use computerized systems for this purpose, which record a bettor’s chosen number(s) or symbols and the total amount of money bet. Winners are usually paid either a lump sum or an annuity (an annual payment over a period of years, with inflation and taxes dramatically eroding the current value).

Gamblers, including players of the lottery, tend to covet money and the things that it can buy. But the Bible forbids covetousness (Exodus 20:17; 1 Timothy 6:10). This proscription is an important reason why God hates the lottery, which lures many into hopeless and deceitful pursuits.