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OUTSIDE THE CAMP – Hebrews 13:11-16

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on June 14, 2017 under PM Bible Study |

PM Home Bible Study Group; June 14, 2017

Hebrews 13:11-16

Theme: The follower of Jesus must follow Jesus ‘outside’ the accepted standards of this world.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

Have you ever considered the freedom we enjoy in our worship of God through Christ? It’s a freedom that many ‘man-made’ religious systems cannot understand and do not enjoy. We, as followers of Jesus, are not required to make a pilgrimage to any place or to a temple or to sacred location. We are not required to make any offerings of animals, or to observe any feasts or fasts, or religious ceremonies, or holidays. We are not required to wear anything, or to eat or abstain from any foods, or recite any chants. Anything that is required of us has already been fulfilled by Jesus on our behalf. And now, the only things that the Lord has ordained for us to observe is that we be baptized by faith in Him just once, and remember His sacrifice for us through the communion meal regularly with our fellow believers. What a remarkable freedom!

But this helps to illustrate how hard it must have been for many of the Jewish Christians who had begun to follow Him. It was very hard for them to think that the rituals and ceremonies and feasts and fasts and offerings and abstinences of the old covenant were no longer necessary. They were, in fact, receiving a great deal of pressure and persecution from their Jewish kinsmen for having followed in this new way of liberty in Christ. The writer of Hebrews wrote to help encourage them to stay the course. And in helping them to do so, he wrote to them about how being—as it were—“outside the camp” of the Jewish Old Covenant is normative for the New Covenant relationship with God through Christ.

This has a great application to us as well who are Gentile followers of Jesus. To follow Him means, from the standpoint of this world, becoming an ‘outsider’. In one respect, from the standpoint of those who seek to earn their favor from God by their good works and their religious activities, we are ‘outside’ in that we do not follow man-made patterns of religious ritualism. We appear to such people to be ‘enemies’ to religion. And from the standpoint of those who are devoted to the sinful practices of this world and the gratification of the fleshly passions, we are ‘outside’ in that we live distinct lives. We appear to them to be ‘enemies’ of the flow of this world.

In either case, this passage encourages us to embrace Jesus Christ, be a distinct people, and follow Him ‘outside the camp’—outside of the standards of this world.

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Note that the writer of Hebrews shows his Jewish readers that this matter of ‘going outside the camp’ is the normal case of things by pointing to …


A. After exhorting his readers to be established in the grace of Christ, and to remember that they have an altar “from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat” (v. 10), he writes, “For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.” This is not speaking of the regular kind of offering that was ordinarily brought to the temple for sacrifice. You’ll note that this mentions the ministry of the “high priest for sin”. This speaks very specifically of the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.

B. In the course of making the sacrifice for the people on the Day of Atonement, the high priest was given this command in Leviticus 16:27-28;

The bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. And they shall burn in the fire their skins, their flesh, and their offal. Then he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp (Leviticus 16:27-28).

Leviticus 4:12 specifies this ‘outside the camp’ place to be “a clean place”. And so, the idea seems that, in the sacrifice for sin, there needed to be a clear identification with ‘separation’ from the camp—a separation unto ‘sanctification’.

This ‘outside the camp’ idea, then, would not be unusual to the Jewish people. It was illustrated in their most sacred day of atonement for sin. And with this in mind, the writer of Hebrews now reminds his readers of …


A. He goes on to say, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.” Note carefully that word “therefore”. This is showing us that there is an intentional correlation between the sacrifice for sin being burned outside the camp on the Day of Atonement, and the sacrifice of Jesus for sin (for which the Day of Atonement was only a type) outside the gates of the city. Jesus, indeed was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem. John 19:17-20 tells us;

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:


Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin (John 19:17-20).

‘Near the city’ means that He was crucified outside the city walls. Jesus, then, was sacrificed for us in much the same way as the sin offering was on the Day of Atonement.

B. And what a picture this presents to us! If we would follow Jesus, we must step outside the city—’outside’, in a figurative sense, and apart from the normal, accepted man-made standards of this world. For the Jewish believer, this meant departing from the humanly- enforced and perpetuated patterns of the Old Covenant given through Moses that God now says no longer apply. And for both the Jewish and Gentile believer, this means departing from the sinful or pseudo-religious pattens of this world, and becoming a completely distinct people. As Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 6:17, “Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’” Or as Peter puts it to his Jewish brethren:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:9-12).

This, then, issues to us …


A. The writer says, “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp …” (v. 13a). Our Lord is no longer in ‘the camp’ where the Old Covenant found its focus. And He is outside ‘the city’ where the values and priorities and lifestyle patterns of sinful humanity reigns. If we want to follow Him, we must become ‘outsiders’ with respect to these things.

B. Notice in what ways this expresses itself:

1. We go outside “bearing His reproach”. We accept that if we turn to Jesus, we must, to some degree, turn away from the approval of this world and bear the shame the shame the people of this world may cast upon us. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 1;

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

2. Also, we seek an eternal city. As the writer of Hebrews says, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (v. 14). We are like those great heroes of faith described in Hebrews 11:13-16;

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:13-16).

3. What’s more, we are distinct in the way we now make an offering through Christ. The writer says in verse 15; “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” We no longer offer an animal sacrifice to receive God’s favor, as people under the Old Covenant used to be required to do. Rather, instead, we offer thanks for the complete sacrifice that our Lord has already made for us. Now, we make offering in a different way. In Psalm 55:12-15, God says;

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you;
For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls,
Or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God thanksgiving,
And pay your vows to the Most High.
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 55:12-15).

4. And finally, we note that we aren’t absent of any sacrifice at all. Rather, we are called upon to do good. The writer says, in verse 16, “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Our separation unto Jesus is not a passive matter. It brings us into a very active life of following the Holy Spirit and living the life that Jesus lived upon this earth. As Paul puts it in Galatians 5:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:19-26).

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What freedom we enjoy in Jesus Christ! But what separation it requires of us to follow Him. Let’s follow our Lord, then, “outside the camp” and be His distinct people!

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