Outside the Camp

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Outside the Camp

A sermon based on Hebrews 13:12-14


          Good morning it is a joy to stand before you again, and it is a joy to declare the Word of God. I trust that you will receive nourishment for your souls as a result of your time here today. I trust that you will see Jesus, and that He will be more precious to you because you came and sat in your pew this morning. May His Spirit come upon us as we look into his holy Word.

          Please open your Bibles to the book of Hebrews, chapter 13. Our main text for today 13:13,14 but I want us to get the context, so let’s begin reading in verse eight.

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp.

12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.13 So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come (Heb. 13:8-14).

          We are called as Christians (people who believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ), to identify not with the Old Testament shadows, but with the New Testament realities. On the whole, the purpose of the book of Hebrews is to bring New Testament light to Old Testament shadows. What do I mean by that? Well, the shadow/reality concept, or type/antitype concept, basically says God spoke and performed acts through nations—in particular Israel, and through individuals, in particular prophets throughout the Old Testament. Subsequently, those words and acts not only had significance for His people then, but they also have incredible significance for His people now. The book of Hebrews is a very important book when attempting to put all these pieces together.

          Our New Testament passage for today has deep Old Testament roots, roots that should be understood in order to fully grasp the significance of the text, which leads me to the first point which is:

I. Identifying with Jesus consists of going outside the camp

          What in the world does that mean? Let’s go back to verse 8. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes forever” (Heb. 13:8), that verse is drawing our attention to something. It is drawing our attention to the fact that Jesus’ ways are eternal and that the old ways, those things mentioned in verses 9-1, and in particular the tabernacle (vs.10) and the priesthood are gone—gone and done away with. For how long—forever?  No longer do we follow a temporary priest. In fact, look at our main text for today which reads:

                   12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His                     own blood, suffered outside the gate.

                   13 Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His                                reproach.

                   14 For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city                        which is to come (Heb. 13:13,14).

Notice the phrase outside the gate and outside the camp. These are O.T. expressions that the recipients of this letter would completely understand,

but for twenty-first century Gentiles it is not that clear. Turn to the book of Exodus chapter 33, and let’s get a sketch of how this word was used and its significance. SUMMARIZE OR READ Exodus 33:

                   7 Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a                        good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting.                           And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of                                      meeting which was outside the camp. 8 And it came about,                             whenever Moses went out to the tent, that all the people would arise                         and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses until                         he entered the tent. 9 Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of                           cloud would  descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the                         Lord would speak with Moses. 10 When all the people saw the pillar                      of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise               and worship, each at the entrance of his tent (Ex. 33:7-10).

Notice the separation that Moses established between himself and the Israelites “outside the camp.” Remember the whole golden calf incident just occurred, subsequently God and Moses were not happy with the people, and thus they had to go “outside the camp.” The second significant thing is the tent of meeting. It was here where God met with Moses “face to face.” Also from this tent of meeting, developed what was soon to be known as the Tabernacle, which was basically a portable sacrificial shrine.


          The Tabernacle is important because it was in the tabernacle where the sacrifices were made. In fact, within the Tabernacle sacrificial system was established a very significant day, a day once a year when the priest and the people would have a special time of confession and sacrifice. This day was called. . .

the Day of Atonement, an event that occurred within the Tabernacle.

          Please turn to Leviticus chapter 16. There you will notice that God spoke to Moses and told Him literally what to say and do regarding this ritual. He told him that Aaron the priest would enter the tabernacle and put on various holy clothes, including a tunic and undergarments. He would in turn offer a number of significant sacrifices: the first for himself, and the second for the people.




                   11 “Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for                           himself and make atonement for himself and for his household, and he           shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself.

                    12 “He shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar                           before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and                     bring it inside the veil.

                   13 “He shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud                     of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the                                        testimony, otherwise he will die.

                    14 “Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle                    it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; also in front of the              mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven                         times (Lev. 16:11-14).



                   20 “When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of                                 meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat.

                    21 “Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live                          goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and                       all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay                        them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by              the hand of a man who stands in readiness.

                   22 “The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary                          land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness (Lev. 16:20-22).


Take note of some key concepts. Notice that Aaron laid on the goat all the sins of the sons of Israel, and that the goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities (22). See later in the text where they take the bodies of the animals and burn them “outside the camp.” What was the purpose of all of this?

                   “Now you shall have this as a permanent statute, to make                                       atonement for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year.”                              And just as the Lord had commanded Moses, so he did (Lev. 16:34)


          SO WHAT? I can hear some of you ask—are you going to give us

another history lesson? Does this have any importance for those of us who are not from the Middle East or wear religious attire? Yes, it has significance and it is directly related to our text for today.

          Please turn back to Hebrews (which, by the way I like to call little Leviticus). Everyone that I studied agrees that Hebrews 13:10-11 is referring to this very thing that we just read—the Day of Atonement. The problem with the Hebrew Christians was that they were being tempted to go back to the ways of the tabernacle and trust in those sacrifices—which were only shadows. They were meant to be introductory to the real sacrifice. That is where our Lord comes in to the equation.

          Observe verse 12, “therefore Jesus!” Oh, brothers and sisters—therefore Jesus, therefore Jesus that He might sanctify the people through His own blood—not the blood of a ram, lamb, bull or goat, but by his own blood of suffering. And where did He suffer? OUTSIDE THE CAMP—Hence,     


II. Going outside the camp consists of going through the gate and to the cross

          This is pregnant with meaning. First of all, it seems quite clear that just as the scapegoats took on the sins of the sons of Israel, so Jesus took on the sins of His people. Is this not what Isaiah alludes to in Isaiah 53:6 where he says,

“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Is. 53:6). But how does this relate to the outside the gate and outside the camp statements? I believe this way.

          First, Jesus’ trial and scourging were inside Jerusalem the holy city of the Jews—true? His sacrifice, however, was outside of the city or “outside the camp” as our text reads. The rejection of Jesus by the sons of Israel, the Jews, was incredibly significant. They despised Jesus; they cursed Him; they called for His blood to be on their heads; they were the ones who turned him over to be tried and crucified. They utterly rejected the Messiah. Therefore, as the Apostle John wrote, “They took Jesus therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha” (John 19:17).

          He went out from the city, outside the gate and outside the camp. Here in this statement we see a very, very important truth. Jesus’ departure from the Holy city of Israel was the mark of the end of Jerusalem as the primary dwelling place of God and the mark of the end of the Jews as the primary people of God. Jesus as the holy scapegoat was going to bear the sins of his people, yes, but it was going to be outside of Jerusalem and outside of Judaism. You must see that! You much catch the significance of that act of Jesus. HE WENT OUT! “HE SUFFERED OUTSIDE THE GATE” (Heb. 13:12). Now back to the shadows, and let me mention two here

          The first shadow that Jesus brought to light was that the nation of Israel was a forerunner to the true nation of God—all believers in the Messiah.  

          Secondly, Jesus going outside the camp as a sacrifice brought to light that lambs, rams, bulls and goats were precursors to His ultimate sacrifice. The bull for the priest and the goat for the people, but Jesus fulfilled both. In fact, He was both. He offered Himself as the perfect priest and He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice. Our sins, therefore, have been permanently placed upon the perfect One (Heb. 9).

          Now, here is where it turns. Jesus turned away Jerusalem and the sons of Israel to all people—all humans past, present and future that ever walked on the planet earth. As part of the Father’s grand system of salvation, the offer that was made to Israel is now made to all mankind. Here it is: “HENCE, LET US GO OUT TO HIM” (Heb. 13:13a). You must GO OUT to identify with Jesus. But I beg the question, go out from where? What do I mean?

          We must leave the city of Jerusalem and go out to him. F.F. Bruce writes, “Jesus was led outside Jerusalem to be crucified, and this is regarded as a token of his rejection by all that Jerusalem represented” (381). In other words, we cannot trust the religion of man or our own works, but only in the finished work of Jesus. If you leave Jerusalem, you must go through the gate. What gate? I would like to bring in the voice of John Bunyan. He illustrated this quite well in his book entitled “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” A book describing allegorically the pilgrimage of one named “Christian.” We pick up the story where Christian has left his family and friends and has approached a gate in the second stage of his experience.


                   So, in process of time, Christian got up to the gate. Now, over the gate                  there was written, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you."                                      Matt. 7:7. He knocked, therefore, more than once or twice,                                    saying,"May I now enter here? Will he within open to sorry me,                     though I have been an undeserving rebel? Then shall I not fail to                         sing his lasting praise on high."

                   At last there came a grave person to the gate, named Goodwill,                                      who asked who was there, and whence he came, and what he                               would have.

              Chr. Here is a poor burdened sinner. I come from the city of                          Destruction, but am going to Mount Zion, that I may be delivered                             from the wrath to come; I would therefore, sir, since I am                               informed that by this gate is the way thither, know if you are              willing to let me in.

              Good. I am willing with all my heart, said he; and with that he opened                    the gate.

              So when Christian was stepping in, the other gave him a pull. Then                      said Christian, What means that? The other told him, A little distance                            from this gate there is erected a strong castle, of which Beelzebub is                      the captain: from thence both he and they that are with him, shoot                             arrows at those that come up to this gate, if haply they may die before                        they can enter in. Then said Christian, I rejoice and tremble. So when                       he was got in, the man of the Gate asked him who directed him                                  thither.

              Chr. Evangelist bid me come hither and knock, as I did: and he                              said, that you, sir, would tell me what I must do.

              Good. An open door is set before thee, and no man can shut it.

              Chr. Now I begin to reap the benefits of my hazards (20-22).

     Bunyan illustrates this stage of the Christian pilgrimage to Christ—brilliantly. One must leave the city of destruction. For the Jew it would be the religion of Judaism, for us today it would be our worldly ways, our self-sufficiency, or any religion that makes us central in our own salvation, which ultimately diminishes the finished work of Christ. Therefore, we must go out of the city of destruction through the gate which leads to a greater place, a greater mount. Once through the gate we make our trek to the cross. Bunyan continues,

                        Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which Christian                              was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was                      called Salvation. Isaiah 26:1. Up this way, therefore, did burdened                       Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on                         his back. He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and           upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a                  sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with                              the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off                       his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to                     the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

                        Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry                             heart, "He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death."                       Then he stood still a while, to look and wonder; for it was very                                  surprising to him that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his             burden. He looked, therefore, and looked again, even till the springs                           that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. Zech. 12:10.                            Now as he stood looking and weeping, behold, three Shining Ones                     came to him, and saluted him with, "Peace be to thee." So the first                        said to him, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," Mark 2:5; the second                               stripped him of his rags, and clothed him with change of raiment,                            Zech. 3:4; the third also set a mark on his forehead, Eph. 1:13, and                       gave him a roll with a seal upon it, which he bid him look on as he                             ran, and that he should give it in at the celestial gate: so they went                           their way. Then Christian gave three leaps for joy, and went on                                       singing. . . Blest cross! blest sepulchre! blest rather be the Man                         that there was put to shame for me!"

          There it is my friend! If you are here this morning and you have never experienced the joy of having your burden removed, then it may be you never left the city, the city of religion, the city of destruction. Mark this, however, it is not to leave the city alone, you must go through the gate and to the cross of Jesus Christ the Messiah to experience your own DAY OF ATONEMENT. What do I mean? Simply put, you must look to Jesus and His perfect sacrifice and His fulfillment of all of God’s salvation requirements.

          By virtue of looking to him, and His perfection you must then certainly see your own sins, and the manner in which you have fallen short of the glory of God. Do you feel that burden which loads your shoulders? It is called sin and the guilt thereof. It should not be there, it should be placed at the foot of the cross where Jesus, like the Old Testament scapegoat, will take it upon Himself and BURY IT so you do not have to carry it any longer. I plead with you—REPENT! Turn to Jesus! Flee to Him! Cry out to Him and ask to be forgiven. Ask him to take your burden! If you do, he will remove your sin and give you His righteousness. The GREAT EXCHANGE, glory to God!  PAUSE. . . Possibly give opportunity for someone to call on Him right now!

And, as a result of salvation, He will set you on a new joyful journey, consequently—

III. Going through the gate and to the cross consists of suffering between two cites

          Our text reads, “[f]or here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (Heb. 13:14) By virtue of leaving the city of destruction, we begin our journey to the new city—the New Jerusalem. Time does not permit us to delve into this part of the verse at length, but suffice to say that we are on a pilgrimage to that joyous place, the heavenly Jerusalem.

          Nevertheless, it must be said that this journey between two cities, although filled with glory, will also be filled with wrongful treatment—Jesus suffered, and we will too. Notice our text which reads, “we must go out to him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:13). Jesus suffered shame for the Scripture reads, “cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (        ). So it will be with us. I say this, however—it is worth every appalling look and every verbal blow. He is worthy of our devotion, no matter what. In closing then, I would challenge all of us to. . . “go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come (Heb. 13:13-14).



CLOSING HYMN: Hallelujah, What a Savior—Hymn #175



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