Death Outside the Camp

Joshua West

“For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” Hebrews 13:11-14 (ESV) 

Social safe American Christianity is of no value to anyone and honestly that kind of Christianity will never be able to survive persecution. 

In ancient times most cities had gates and walls which kept the people safe. Jerusalem had a gate and it separated the people in the city from the danger outside. Outside the city walls were robbers and lepers. This is where the trash was dumped and where unholy and unclean things were discarded. This is also where the sin offering was burned. 

In Hebrews 13 the author explains the fact that the priest made sacrifices in the temple, which was inside the safety of the city walls. These sacrifices were temporary and powerless to save us wholly and fully from our sin. But the discarded bodies along with all unclean things were burned outside the city gate. 

Ironically the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the entire world was sacrificed outside the city gate. He did this to make us holy, we have been justified and we are being sanctified and one day will be glorified. But to share in his glory we must also share in his suffering and bear his disgrace. 

“But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13 (ESV) 

“… and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:17 (ESV) 

The author of Hebrews says, “let us, then, go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore.” It is a call to come and die, to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Christ. 

But why would this be appealing to us? For two reasons: first, we realize that this life is just a foreshadowing of a life to come. We go outside the gate because once reborn we realize that this is not our city and this is not our world. We are merely pilgrims who are passing through. We are not, nor can we ever be at home inside the safety of the city or be at comfort in this world because we are looking for a city whose builder and maker is God himself. 

Second, we joyfully take on Christ’s disgrace and reproach because our eyes have been opened to the fact that Jesus is our treasure. He is the reward of all ages, he is the King of all Kings, unbreakable and unchanging he makes intercession for us. 

Those who think this view is extreme don’t see the enduring value of Christ. He is the final prophet, our eternal priest and forever reigning King! He is our priest forever not because of tradition or his ancestry but on the basis of his indestructible life. 

“For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.” Hebrews 7:14-16 (ESV) 

Indestructible life? His divinity cannot be overtaken by death and because of this he is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. He is our treasure and we are his reward! 

Christ is the doxology of the church and the motivation behind missions—the fire that burns in the heart of every true lover of Christ is to understand the treasure and the worthiness that is Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Christian discipleship is joyfully flinging your life away for the glory of the God who saved you. It is understanding there is nothing in this life that could ever compare to his splendor. 

We are the reward of Christ’s sufferings. The point of the Christian life is to live to glorify him, to conform to his image and to make his name known in all the earth. The hope of my life is that I can somehow pour my entire life out in service of Him and die empty for his glory. 

In Christ,

Pastor Joshua 

Joshua West is a pastor, evangelist, and author. he is also director of the World Challenge Pastors Network.


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