Posted By Nan

Today I commence a blog series on my word (or in this case, phrase) of the year: “Follow Me”. At the end of last year, I identified a number of Bible verses that covered this topic. During this series I will be looking at each verse and discussing its implications for following Jesus.
Exodus 23:2
This verse sits in a series of verses that immediately follow the ten commandments. Here God instructs Moses and the Israelites how He wants them to live. It is always important, when seeking to understand a Bible verse, to look at its context. Where does it occur in the book? What do the surrounding verses contain? Are there links to other verses in the Bible? What is the historical and social location of theses verses?
This verse lies in a section of Exodus where there is a discussion about how God wants the Israelite people to behave justly and the extent of the mercy He expects them to show to others.
The context of Exodus is the nation of Israelites being brought out of Egypt after 400 years living there. They do not know God well and have learned Egyptian culture. Now they need to know God better and learn how to live according to God. So these lengthy instructions are there to teach the Israelites.
First God instructs to people to not bow to peer pressure. He tells them it does not matter what the crowd is doing. This does not make something right. Instead God requires people to step away from the crowd and follow Him. Saying you were just doing what others were doing is not a valid defence before God.
Following on from this, God instructs the people to give testimony in court cases that is truthful, not influenced by what others want said. Being popular and ignoring God leads you away from God. God requires you to be truthful, no matter the cost.
The verse ends by instructing the people not to side with one person because they are sorry for them. True Justice is about truth. You may feel sorry for one person. But telling a lie to protect someone does not allow God to act in that person’s life.
In following Jesus, God requires us to step out in faith, even when it means being the odd one out. It is hard to go against the crowd. And sometimes you will be subjected to nasty reactions from the crowd. But Jesus knows that will happen and He will strengthen you. We are never to lie to go along with the crowd or lie to protect another person. Instead we are to be truthful and allow God to intervene in the situation.

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