Are You in a Tent or a Camp?
The Bible at different times gives us little nuggets of scripture that, if we don’t stop and examine them closely, we may never understand what was said. One example is in the Book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 13:13, ” Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.
Why is the apostle Paul telling us in this verse to go to Him without the camp? To understand Paul’s teaching here we must go all the way back to the days of Moses and the leading of God’s people in the wilderness.
Entire Nation Were to be God’s Priests.
Exodus 19:6, ” And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”
In Exodus 20:2, God gave what He calls His Testimony, which continues to Exodus 31:18.
Exodus 25:8, ” And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. 9, According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall shall ye make it.”
When we hear that the law was given on Mount Sinai we are only partially right, because, not only were the ten commandments given but other civil laws were given along with the pattern of the Ark as well as the details of the Tabernacle. God wanted to dwell among His people and His dwelling place would be the Tabernacle, a tent dwelling. If His people were to dwell in a temporary tent dwelling on their way to the Promised Land, He would dwell in a temporary tent dwelling also.
Exodus 31:18, And He gave unto Moses when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
The name God used here indicates that His testimony is for all people of the world everywhere. If His testimony was only for the children of Israel, which, because of an exclusive covenant relationship He had with them, we would read, written by the finger of Jehovah.
The people at the foot of Mount Sinai,while waiting for the return of Moses, were compelled to engage in idolatry erecting a calf of gold to worship. They were breaking God’s laws and testimony before they ever received the tables of stone.
We read in the last part of Exodus 32:6, And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
This is an example of the natural man with his sinning nature. The people were inpatient and wanted to create their own god; and we read of the result:
Exodus 32:19, And it came to pass,as soon as he, (Moses) came nigh to the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
The Priesthood Changed from the People to the Tribe of the Levites.
Exodus 32:26, Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Who is on the Lords side? Let him come unto me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.
Verse 28 says that there were about 3000 men fallen that day. The Levites were defenders of the Lords Testimony so from then on, the Levites would be God’s priest and the others disqualified themselves because of idolatry.
The Tabernacle Moved Outside the Camp
Moses knew that because of God’s displeasure in the behavior of the idolatrous people, he moved the tent outside the camp.
Exodus 33:7, And Moses took the tabernacle (the tabernacle wasn’t built yet so the tabernacle at this point was only a tent) and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that everyone which sought the Lord went out unto the Tabernacle which was without the camp.
From that time on, if the people had a heart to seek the Lord, they would need to leave the camp and go outside unto the Tabernacle, God’s dwelling place.
This is an example of what the Apostle Paul describes in the Book of Hebrews. It is something written for us because we need to learn and grasp it’s understanding.
A Camp Signifies Organized Religion
There are many religions and religious organizations in the world and no matter how good they seem, God has left them. He wants no part of human organizations. They all practice idolatry in some form. If we want and expect the blessings fulfilling the promises of God, we should leave the camp of human religion and organizations and seek God outside of religion.
Jesus Christ Rejected by Religious Leaders
Leaving the writings of Moses and looking into the New Testament, we find that Jesus, before He became God’s anointed, the Christ, received the same treatment and rejection.
John 1:11, He came unto His own and His own received Him not.
His own was the House of Judah. These religious leaders were in the camp of Judaism and allowed to exist by Roman authority. They were in an organized religion. Therefore, because He was different and did things and spoke things outside of their religion, they couldn’t recognize Him as the promised Seed in Genesis 3:15, or as the Immanuel spoken of in the Book of Isaiah, 7:14. They were expecting their god to come with power and authority, destroy the Romans, and place them in authority over all people as well as the Roman Nation. They had no idea that the Scriptures spoke of the suffering of Jesus first, by being brought to the cross, and then, after His suffering, His Glory.
The Apostle Paul uses the word reproach in Hebrews 13:13, which means that He was rejected and suffered for it. It wasn’t a pleasant experiences. for Him. We, who are followers of Christ, have a heart to share in His sufferings and reproach, and will share the same experiences. Nevertheless, we need to go outside of religion set up by human efforts as Jesus did.
Jesus Was Crucified Outside the City
Hebrews 13:12, Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate.
This gate was an entrance into the City of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the most honored and holy city to the populated world at that time, and yet, where was the honor Jesus should have had? He was treated as a criminal. Although He did many marvelous works that the religious leaders couldn’t do, He was rejected.
John The Baptist And His Ministry
Luke 1:5, there was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6, And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 1st part of verse 7, And they had no child.
John the Baptist was a forerunner of the seed promised in Genesis 3:15. He was born 6 months earlier than Jesus, who would prepare a new way to serve God. We can read that when he started his ministry he didn’t go into the temple of his day or to the religious leaders, but was a voice crying in the wilderness, Luke 3:4, Isaiah 40:3. His clothing was not priestly robes but a camel hair coat, Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6. See our work; “The Genealogy of Jesus” and “The Wise Men, And the Star, Then and Now” on this website.
The ministry ofJesus follows the same pattern as John. Just as John avoided the religious leaders of his day, Jesus did also.
Matthew 4:18, And Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, for they were fishers. 19, and He said unto them, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”.
Jesus didn’t go to the temple or to the religious leaders either. But to a special group of people, He was a new way, a new life, and a new beginning. It is important that we take our calling seriously and learn the examples set forth in scripture and follow the writing of Moses which was a type and shadow, but Jesus Christ is the reality. He is our true Tabernacle pitched outside the camp of religious organizations set up by men.