“No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law – there is a curse on them (John 7:49 NIV).”
There have been recent spates of mob violence occurring throughout our nation. Many, opposed to presidential candidates, in both parties, have committed violence on others or threatened to do so. There have been riots wherever these speakers appear to silence their voices and dampen enthusiasm for those who wish to hear them. This pox is not new in our country, the Whiskey Rebellion produced mob violence in Washington’s first term in opposition to a tax imposed by the government. Some could even argue that the American Revolution itself was the outgrowth of a several mob uprisings.
Often where large crowds of people are gathered there is fertile ground for evil to flourish. Social psychologists have theorized that violent crowds are an entity unto themselves in which individuals lose a sense of their individual identity and responsibility. People can often perform evil under mob rule in which they normally could never conceive of doing outside of a riot environment. The French Revolution began in order to establish a Constitutional Republic but devolved into a reign of terror, which killed tens of thousands, as the mob’s blood thirst went unchecked. The history of every nation is spotted with such events.
The Bible affirms this truth through many examples and instructions. A mob gathered in Sodom at Lot’s home on the eve of its destruction (Genesis 19:4-11). The whole world gathered as one body in disobedience before God exercised the largest demonstration of crowd dispersal in history (Genesis 11:1-9). While Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments on Sinai the Israelites descended into a drunken orgy (Exodus 32:6) and even Aaron succumbed to make a golden calf. Mobs grow and evil is cultivated in the absence of leadership. While Moses was away, rather than to exercise authority (Exodus 32:25) Aaron was swept away in their lawlessness. King Saul turned away from God to please the crowd (1 Samuel 15:24) for which God rejected him as king (v.26).
A mob gathered to disrupt Paul’s proclamation of the gospel in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-10) and then followed him to Berea so that none there might be persuaded by his speech (VV.13-14). The Apostle suffered stoning at the hands of mobs on more than one occasion (2 Corinthians 6:5), once dragging him out of their city and leaving him for dead (Acts14:19). Recall that it was a riotous mob that arrested Jesus with swords and clubs (Matthew 26:47), and the next day refused to allow Pilate to release our Lord and demanded his death (Matthew 27:24-26).
Among many, there is a sense of safety in numbers that is a false belief according to the Bible. God commanded the Hebrews; “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice (Exodus 23:2).” Those who follow the crowd are on a path that leads to destruction, both in this life (Isaiah 59:6-8) and in the next (Matthew 7:13). Remember, out of the entire world’s population, only eight were saved from the flood (1 Peter 3:20). Following the crowd is no sure bet.
This world has always been a tumultuous mob that wreaks havoc and destruction and its end is certain. Christians have been called out of this world by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14) so that we no longer follow the passions and politics of the people of this world (Ephesians 2:2) nor giving our approval to their actions (Romans 1:29-32). We are not drawn into the mob mentality of worldly thinking but are united together for God’s purposes (1 Peter 4:1-5).
“Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy (Romans 13:13).”