What does the Bible say about gambling?
Is it a sin?
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Question: What does the Bible say about gambling? Is buying lottery tickets or gambling at a casino a sin?
Answer: The modern words "gambling" and "lottery" are not found in the Bible. However, there are numerous Bible verses that denounce the principles behind them. These principles include idol worship and greed, which are the foundations that encourage this kind of behavior.
People often indulge in gambling - be it playing the lottery or going to a casino - because they hope to "get lucky." However, the Bible does say that Luck, Fortune, Fate and Destiny are as foreign "gods" that people rely on. Let's take a look at Isaiah 65:
"But you who forsake the LORD, who forget My holy mountain, who set a table for FORTUNE, and who fill cups with mixed wine for destiny, I will destine you for the sword, and all of you will bow down to the slaughter . . ." (Isaiah 65:11-12, NASB)
The Bible says those who worship (show honor to) fortune and destiny (gambling) will be put to shame and a distinct contrast is shown here between God's servants and those who rely on fate. Note also that the familiar stereotypical signs associated with a gambler; one who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet and who points with his fingers is addressed in the book of Proverbs:
"A worthless person, a wicked man, is the one who walks with a perverse mouth, who WINKS WITH HIS EYES, who SIGNALS WITH HIS FEET, who POINTS WITH HIS FINGERS; Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, who spreads strife. Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing." (Proverbs 6:12-15, NASB)
The fundamental principle behind gambling of any kind is that for a small "investment" a person can get a big pay off. Thinking this way aligns a person with what the Bible considers to be GREED. One day a person asked Jesus a question about money and the response he got was more than he bargained for:
"Someone in the crowd said to Him (Jesus), 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.' But He said to him, 'Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?' Then He said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of GREED; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.'
"And He told them a parable, saying, 'The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, "What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?" Then he said, "This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.' "'
“But God said to him, ‘YOU FOOL! This very night your soul is required of you; AND NOW WHO WILL OWN WHAT YOU HAVE PREPARED?’ So is the man who stores up treasure FOR HIMSELF, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13-21, NASB)
Interestingly, the word arbitrator in the above Bible verse is translated from the Greek that has a similar meaning to the Hebrew word for Destiny. Both share the idea of dividing or apportioning and are similar to the gambling establishments which divide or apportion one group's wealth to another. Lastly, the book of Jeremiah warns us not to be "greedy for gain." It is an evil that the Bible states the Lord despises:
“'For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is GREEDY FOR GAIN, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals FALSELY . . . Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time that I punish them, they shall be cast down,' says the LORD." (Jeremiah 6:13, 15, NASB)
Thank you for allowing us to answer your question about what does the Bible say about gambling.
Written by: Dave / Trish Manning