The great evangelical preacher, Dr.G.Campbell Morgan in his book The Ten Commandments spoke of 'gambling fever as an insidious evil, sapping away the integrity and uprightnesss of the nation, a lust for possession without toil'. The Word of God exhorts us in 1 Corinthians ch.10 v31 'Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God'. Hence one of the watchwords which our forefathers used at the glorious Reformation was in the language of the day "SOLI DEO GLORIA". Such days are gone and our British nation through the prevailing lottery mania, manifests a marked despising of the God of providence. No Christian can consider the state of our nation in this new millennium without considerable grief and foreboding.
In Northern Ireland we have for years previous had the enticement of the Irish Lotto, now we experience first hand, the UK following the example of all the Roman Catholic countries in the EU. Rome it should be noted openly encourages gambling and in many "parishes" in Ireland, BINGO is a most acceptable social activity.
We call The Lottery 'A DISGRACE' because it is sinful , according to the Word of God. The writer in Proverbs Ch.14v34 speaks of sin as 'a reproach' unto any people. The law of God set forth in The Ten Commandments written in Exodus ch.20 declares 'Thou shalt not covet'. The National Lottery promotes the sin of covetousness and clearly is a form of Theft, because it is an attempt to gain something at others expense, without giving adequate value in return.
"The INDEPENDENT" newspaper columnist, Niall Ferguson wrote recently "The appeal of lotteries is profoundly pagan", as it elevates the role of chance above that of God and reason. He observed wisely, "There are two reasons for boycotting the lottery, and only two. One is an ethical aversion to gambling. This is most strongly developed among Calvinists ..their belief in divine predestination leaves no room for the operation of chance". The other argument is rational : the chances of winning are infinitesimal as to make participation, irrational !
In conclusion, it must be said that the promoter, CAMELOT , thrives on a diet "of superstition, ignorance and fear", encapsulated by the giant hand in the lottery advert. This is not the hand of the true God of the Bible, but the hand of CHANCE , which has the power to bestow riches upon whom it will !!
The BASIC QUESTION is "Who (or what) is your God?". For the Christian there can be only one answer and living out that commitment consistently maybe costly. Refusing to buy lottery tickets or scratch cards maybe unpopular amongst friends or workmates. We are not promised an easy road upon this earth yet Holy Scripture assures us in 1 Samuel ch.2v30
"Them that honour me , I will honour". We must also realise that "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" Luke ch.12v15. The sovereign Lord alone is worthy of our entire devotion as faithful evangelical and reformed Protestants. Are we as a nation to become obsessed with the thrill of a gamble or should we set our minds on things above, seeking the JOY of the Lord amidst a wicked and perverse generation? Is there a desire to be a witness unto our neighbours towards the ways of righteousness for God's eternal glory ?
A book is available entitled 'What Price The Lottery' by KeithTondeur, Published by Monarch at £6.50 ISBN 1-85424-349-7. We commend this book to your reading. Better still, request it in your local library thereby ensuring a place for it on the shelves.
An excellent message is available on cassette , entitled "What should the Christian think of the National lottery?" given by Rev.David Silversides of Loughbrickland RPC, County Down. Copies of this recording together with a free printed message on Covetousness maybe had by sending six 19p stamps to 'REFORMATION IRELAND', 15 Lakeview Avenue, Mossley, Newtownabbey, County Antrim, BT36 5ZG
The author of this article, Mr.R.Stewart is Ulster secretary of Reformation Ireland and a member of The Congregational Reformed Church, Belfast.