Without and Afar Off: Part 1

Hebrews 13:13  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
"Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." Heb. 13:1313Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. (Hebrews 13:13).
We might well ask several questions regarding the above verse of Scripture:
To whom was this appeal addressed?
Why was it addressed to them?
Can this be applied to us?
If applied to us, what is its true force and meaning?
We shall seek to answer these questions in the fear of the Lord, and for the profit of our souls.
This verse as the rest of the Epistle to the Hebrews, was addressed to the converted Jews. There are very good reasons to believe that it was written by the apostle Paul. Although he was the apostle to the Gentiles, in this case the Spirit of God used him to write a special and direct word to the Jews who had repented of the deed of their nation in rejecting their Messiah. These had accepted the Lord Jesus as their Saviour.
Converted Jews were naturally much attached to the temple and to the Jewish ritual and customs. They had been brought up in it, and much of it was God-given; but now since the rejection of the Lord Jesus, and the rejection of the testimony of the Holy Spirit from a glorified Christ, God was setting the whole system aside. Christianity was not to be a mere adjunct to Judaism, but something entirely new. God was calling out from among the Jews and from the Gentiles a people for heaven, with heavenly hopes—not earthly. Christians were to be a people on earth waiting for the Lord to come. They were not to have a religion of forms and ceremonies as did the Jews, but to worship God in the Spirit. Forms and ritual were to be set aside for spiritual sacrifices. All was a direct contrast to what had gone before.
Not only was the Jewish order of things to be set aside, but God was about to judge that guilty nation. They had boldly said:
"He sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city," was soon to be carried out. God was about to execute judgment on that guilty people.
The Spirit of God addresses this beautiful and instructive epistle, Hebrews, to those who believed among the Jews in order to separate them in heart from that which was so soon to fall under the righteous judgment of God. The whole epistle is one of contrasts. The aim and purpose is to show the Jewish Christians that they had something better. The word "better" occurs many times in the epistle. They were going to lose nothing by giving up outward forms and ordinances for that which was spiritual and heavenly, because all was better. There is much profit in reading Hebrews, and seeing how all of the God-given Jewish services were but types and shadows of the better things that had now come. All that had been in connection with the earthly sanctuary had served its purpose in pointing on to blessed realities which had now been brought in. Therefore it was no loss to turn to the better things connected with Christ in glory, which had all been brought in through His death and resurrection.
With that foundation laid in the epistle the Spirit of God gives this earnest appeal to
"Go forth unto Him without the camp." Israel had been referred to as the "camp" many times. As soon as Israel was redeemed and brought out of Egypt we read:
"And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them." This expression then was easily understood by these converted Jews as applying to Israel and Jerusalem.
They were called to go out from the camp, but not merely from the camp. The call is very definitely to go "unto Him." Therefore, the Lord Jesus must be outside of the camp. When He came into this world He came to Israel. We read that He came unto His own in John 1:1111He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:11), but His own would not have Him. Finally after being presented to that people in every respect according to the promises and prophecies, He left them and said:
"Your house is left unto you desolate." Matt. 23:3838Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. (Matthew 23:38). After that He was taken outside of their religious center, Jerusalem, and crucified "without the gate." Thus we see that the Lord Jesus was no longer in connection with the camp of Israel and their religion of shadows.
There is probably an allusion in. Hebrews 13:1313Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. (Hebrews 13:13) to the scene in Exodus 33, where Moses, divinely taught, took a tent and pitched it "without the camp" because the camp had become a defiled place. God could no longer sanction the camp by His presence because it had become defiled by the presence and worship of the golden calf. Moses entered into God's thoughts and not only placed the tabernacle without, but "afar off from the camp." So it was in the day when this epistle was written to the Christians from among the Hebrews. The camp was defiled and rejected, and Christ was outside of that whole system. Now they were appealed to that they should go outside of it unto Christ.
Those who heeded the call in that day left the temple, and finally Jerusalem, before it was destroyed by the Roman armies, called in Matthew 22 "His armies." Thus the separation between Christianity and Judaism was completed.
It is only too sad that Christianity should afterward fall under the snare of Judaism, and go back to the outward forms, ceremonies, and ritual which marked the imperfect thing.
(To be continued)