What Is the Camp?

Hebrews 13:12-13  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 11
In this last chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, the Spirit of God, speaking of the fact that "the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp," goes on to say, "Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify [set apart] the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." vv. 11-13.
Many are at a. loss to know what is referred to by the term "camp," yet it is very important to understand it, because those who love the Lord Jesus Christ are exhorted to go forth from it unto Him.
In order to learn what is meant then (as is our duty to do) by this expression, we should first of all find out to whom the epistle is primarily and especially addressed, and with God's blessing it will soon be made plain.
The epistle to the Hebrews was written to professedly converted Jews who had been born and trained up under the law given by God to Israel at Mount Sinai when in camp in the wilderness. Then and there a system of worship was ordained of God for this nation in the flesh, which was perfect in its place, but which did not suppose or require that the worshipers should be born again, and under which system they as a nation utterly failed.
Next we must get clear as to what the Spirit of God called "the camp," at the time the Apostle wrote the above exhortation. The ninth chapter tells us that there were ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary, consisting of a tabernacle made with men's hands, and pitched on earth, which was their place of worship. They also had an ordained priesthood-men of a certain family set apart to come between the worshipers and God, of whom Aaron was the high priest. And this man was the minister of this sanctuary, without whom the worshipers could not worship..
This high priest offered up an atonement for these people's sins once every year, besides the other sacrifices that were offered up continually; and as already noticed, these worshipers were not required to be a converted people (though some of them were so), but were a company of believers and unbelievers mingled together, all of them on the ground of law-keeping for righteousness.
Now this system embraced as worshipers all the nation of Israel then in camp. At the time the Apostle wrote, this nation had become settled in the land, and their worship centered in the temple at Jerusalem. The Spirit of God calls this "the camp," out of which the "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling," were to go forth.
I learn then that Judaism, or this system of worship in the flesh, was in Paul's day "the camp." And, dear Christian reader, is it not clear at a glance that any system of worship of a Jewish nature and character, and in consequence a system that the flesh and sight-the world in fact-can more or less join in, is the camp in our day? We know, as revealed by the Son of God Himself, that "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth"-a thing impossible for the flesh to do. It requires men to be born of the Spirit and sealed with the Spirit. In John 4:2121Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. (John 4:21) our Lord says, "Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father." The time had come when places of worship on earth-mountains, and temples made with hands-should be done away with. Men in the flesh had been thoroughly tested and proved to be utterly incapable of obeying God's law, or worshiping Him either; and now a new order of things comes in: men born of the Spirit, indwelt by the Spirit, worshiping in spirit and in truth, not in a temple or tabernacle on earth, but in the holiest, that is, heaven itself- the only worshiping place now-having boldness to enter there by the blood of Jesus.
Therefore, if any system of worship exists now which has a worldly sanctuary-a temple made with hands, with an ordained priesthood or class of men set apart to take a special place between the worshipers and God, without whom they cannot worship, where the worshipers are a mixture of converted and unconverted people under law, that is, must be indeed-"the camp." It is Judaism in its nature and character as a system of worship, though there may be some real Christians in it, and the gospel be still preached more or less faithfully by some in it, too.
It is the Holy Spirit-it is God-speaking, who says through the Apostle to any of His dear children who are in any kind of system such as this, "Let us go forth therefore unto Him [Christ] without the camp, bearing His reproach."
"But," say some, "why not stay inside and do the good you can where you are?" Because, "to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." 1 Sam. 15:2222And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22). Because God will not have Christianity and Judaism mixed up together-the new wine in the old bottles. Because God will not have the world and the Church unequally yoked together (2 Cor. 6). Because Jesus Christ has come a High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands. He has been cast out by worshipers in the flesh (Jewish worshipers), and suffered outside the gate on Calvary, proving that worship in the flesh is not a real thing; for if they had loved God, they would have reverenced His Son. Though these worshipers in the flesh could point out in the Scriptures where Christ was to be born, to the wise men of the east, not one foot did they go to find Him, but were troubled and distressed at the very thought of His being come.