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What does Exodus 23:2 teach us about not following the crowd?


not following the crowd
Question: "What does Exodus 23:2 teach us about not following the crowd?"

Answer:
In the context of many laws comprising the Mosaic Covenant (often called the Mosaic Law), God instructs Israel that they should not follow the crowd in doing evil (Exodus 23:2a). He adds that the people should not change their testimony to follow after the crowd in perverting justice (Exodus 23:2b). Popular opinion is generally not God’s opinion, and He warns people against following the wisdom of the crowd.

Paul contrasts the wisdom of God with the wisdom of the age, recognizing that people do not come to know God through the wisdom of the crowd or the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1:20–21). God didn’t choose many that the world would consider wise, mighty, or noble (1 Corinthians 1:26). Instead, He chose those who were not esteemed by the word so that they would boast in God and not in themselves (1 Corinthians 1:27–29). Similarly, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul warns against being taken captive by popular philosophies, traditions, and elementary principles that are not of Christ (Colossians 2:8).

Solomon discusses this kind of contrast in the context of “under the sun” thinking versus “beyond the sun” thinking. He explains how under the sun there is nothing of any lasting meaning, and how the pursuits of life are fleeting and ultimately empty (for example, see Ecclesiastes 1:14). On the other hand, when one is pursuing the basic functions of life in recognition of God, there is joy and fulfillment (Ecclesiastes 2:4; 12:13). Jesus was not silent on this contrast, either. He describes that there is a broad way taken by many that leads to destruction; on the other hand, there is a narrow way that few take, and it leads to life (Matthew 7:13–14).

The challenge for us is that we are creatures who prefer the approval of those around us. Peer pressure is a powerful thing, but the Bible shows us the importance of not following the crowd, but rather seeking to follow what is right in the eyes of God. As Paul put it, we should not be conformed to the world system; instead, we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1–2) through what God has communicated in His Word. Following the crowds will get us in trouble. Peer pressure is such a temptation for people that, even as part of God’s law for Israel, revealed through Moses, God warned the people not to be pressured to follow the crowd into wrongdoing.

Recommended Resource: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers Holman Old Testament Commentary by Glen Martin

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