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I'm curious what the Bible says about Luck. Is this something that is a real occurrence or is every little detail ordained and controlled by God (fate).

I searched biblegateway and did not find "luck" under NIV. Then I tried NASB. The closest thing I've found comes out the of Good News Translation (which I don't trust at all) and out of the book of Sirach (which I've never heard of).

Sirach 20:9 (GNT)
Bad luck can sometimes lead to success, and a stroke of good luck can sometimes lead to loss

There are more sayings in that book and translation, however, this really doesn't satisfy me, since I've never heard of the book of Sirach (and I really don't trust the Good News translation).

Is there biblical support for or against Luck?


Just to be clear, I'm referring to Luck as the random chance--coincidence--that brings good or bad fortune. I'm not referring to an external force that influences the good or bad that happens in our lives.

Clearly, if there is an external force that brings us good or bad fortune, that could be directly attributed to God, Satan, demons, or angels from a biblical/Christian stance.

Scope: Just to be clear, I'm interested primarily in the Protestant Bible, but I'm willing to accept Catholic translations and Deuterocanonical books.

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Why don't you trust the Good News Translation? –  Wikis Jan 10 '12 at 14:07

6 Answers 6

up vote 25 down vote accepted

Proverbs 16:33 (New Living Translation)

We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.

Another translation:

NIV:

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

Apparently, therefore, luck as such does not exist but providence does.

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@Downvoter: care to explain? –  Wikis Apr 12 '12 at 18:03

The English word "luck" didn't come into usage until the late 1400s so "luck" itself will not be found in scripture. The words translated "fortune" and "fate" from the Hebrew of scripture are the early origins of "luck" and gave "luck" it's meanings. Good history is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luck

Since English cannot be precisely translated from other languages such as Hebrew or Greek, no English translation is adequate for a complete study. Reliance must constantly be maintained on the original languages and oldest definitions from these languages if the full truth is ever to be learned. Unlike every generation before this one, PC tools are readily available to accomplish this personal education, literally at our fingertips, for free: http://www.e-sword.net/

Impossible to see from the King James and most other English version but the Literal Translation shows:

Isa 65:11 But you are those who forsake Jehovah, who forget My holy mountain; who array a table for Fortune, and who fill mixed wine for Fate.

Isa 65:12 And I will number you to the sword; and you shall all bow down to the slaughter; because I called and you did not answer. I spoke, and you did not hear; and you did the evil in My eyes; and you chose that in which I had no pleasure.

From the Strong's Hebrew Dictionary, the words “Fortune” and “Fate” from verse 65:11:

H1408: Gad: Fortune, a Babylonian deity

H4507: men-ee': the Apportioner, that is, Fate (as an idol)

65:12 shows that "serving" either of these false gods results in personal and national destruction. This example also shows the danger in dependence on ANY single English version alone to learn Gods’ Word.

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Can you please make the link clearer between these passages and the concept of luck specifically? –  curiousdannii 2 days ago
    
And please do so by editing this question rather than posting another answer. And you keep answering that the specific "word" luck wasnt around. I'm pretty sure that the concept of "luck" is what the question had in mind. –  David Stratton 2 days ago

To the committed believer who rests upon God's love, there is no such thing as luck. As the passage says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

To the one who has finally believed that God really takes care of him or her, there is no such thing as luck; God uses both the good and bad for the good of the individual. From the carnal standpoint, we would see unlucky happenings as undesireable things happening to us, but for the one who is convinced that God loves him, those event are allowed by God for some reason, such as to train him up in character, like teaching him patience. They are neither lucky nor unlucky incidents, but guided by God for good.

So the idea of luck, whether good or bad, depends on the perspective of the person's relationship with a loving God, according to Romans 8:28.

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You may be surprised but there is no such thing as "luck" for Christians. As the other nations believe that if one has a good luck, whatever one does, he always wins, or if one has a bad luck, whatever one strives to make good, he always fails, but sadly this is the world view or pagan view which leaves no choice to anybody whereas the Bible clearly states in Deuteronomy 11:27-29 about how to receive BLESSING OR CURSE. The choice is ours. If we start accepting the pagan view, it leaves no choice to luck believers.

For us the commandment is not to indulge or adopt the teachings of any other nation.

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Welcome to Christianity.SE! Please feel free to the full text of your references - this is a well sourced good first answer! –  Affable Geek Feb 14 '12 at 22:10

James says

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?

James 2:15-16 NABRE

which I thought I recalled being translated, "good luck, see ya later, hope you don't starve to death and die of exposure!" But still has the same connotation as wishing someone luck while not providing for their needs.

Clearly depending on luck is a bad idea and having an expectation of good fortune for others when you could be providing form them rather than merely wishing them good luck is useless, and is not true faith.

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In both the Old and the New Testaments, drawing of lots is used as a means of discerning the will of God - he controls events that appear random to us.

The Urim and Thummim were (probably) two objects kept inside the clothing of the high priest, who would draw one out "at random" to get a yes-or-no answer to some question. This happens, for example, in 1 Samuel 14 to see who had broken Saul's order not to eat any food on a particular day; here are verses 40-42 in the NIV:

Saul then said to all the Israelites, "You stand over there; I and Jonathan my son will stand over here."

"Do what seems best to you," they replied.

Then Saul prayed to the LORD, the God of Israel, "Why have you not answered your servant today? If the fault is in me or my son Jonathan, respond with Urim, but if the men of Israel are at fault, respond with Thummim." Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot, and the men were cleared. Saul said, "Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son." And Jonathan was taken.

The part I have put in italics above is in the Greek version (the Septuagint) but not in the Hebrew.

In the New Testament, the disciples draw lots to determine who is to succeed Judas. This happens in Acts 1:23-26:

So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

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Great answer. You write of the practical application, I wrote of the theory. :) –  Wikis Sep 15 '11 at 15:05
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another example of casting lots is in Jonah 1 - " Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah." –  warren Sep 15 '11 at 15:52
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@warren, true, however this does not say anything about God's view on throwing dice since the men were not believers in God (in verse 6 they instruct Jonah to call on his God). –  Wikis Sep 15 '11 at 17:05

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