"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Outside the Camp

"Let us go to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach" (Hebrews 13:13).

The sacrifices in the Old Testament foreshadowed the coming of the Messiah like a shadow protruding from a corner on a sunny day portends the coming of a person. The Old Covenant practice of sacrificing lambs, goats, and bulls foretell in picture form the coming of "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar. It was called the Sabbath of Sabbaths by the Hebrews. Two goats were brought into the camp for the Yom Kippur sacrifice. The first goat brought into the camp on the Day of Atonement was killed. The blood of this goat was sprinkled seven times before the altar, and then a basin of its blood was taken through the curtain into the holy of holies and sprinkled seven times before the ark of the covenant (Leviticus 16). Peace with God is foreshadowed through this Yom Kippur ritual, for "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus Christ's blood "cleanses us from all sin" and through our faith in Christ we have peace with God (Romans 8:1). The body of this goat was taken by the priest outside the camp and burned.

The second goat, called the scapegoat, had a scarlet ribbon tied around its neck. The high priest would lay his hands on the head of the scapegoat and confess the sins of Israel. The scapegoat would then be taken by the priest outside the camp  and lost in the desert. The scapegoat foreshadows how Christ would bear the sins of His people and separate their sins from them "as far as the east is from the west."  The Messiah was named Jesus because "He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). God sees no sin in His people because our Scapegoat has carried them away. They are taken outside the camp and lost forever.

Outside the camp. This is an Old Covenant principle. Sin and shame are outside the camp in the Old Covenant. Lepers and the outcasts of Israel lived outside the camp. Outside the camp was an unclean place for unclean people. The priest who carried the body of the goat to be burned outside the camp had to go through purification rituals before he was even allowed back inside the camp (Leviticus 16:28). Nobody went outside the camp in the Old Covenant during Yom Kippur unless the Hebrews cast them out as unworthy, unwanted, and unwelcome.

Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law--"every jot and tittle"--and died for us outside the camp. It is a known historical fact that Jesus Christ was crucified, bearing our sin "outside the gate" of Jerusalem (Hebrews 13:12). "So, let us go to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach" (Hebrews 13:13).

Whereas the Hebrews in the Old Covenant were never to go outside the gate, the writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews calls for us to "go to Him outside the gate." The New Covenant turns the Old Covenant principle of "outside the camp" on its head. In the Old Covenant, sin and shame were outside the camp and no Hebrew dared go outside the camp. In the New Covenant, Christ died outside the gate and followers of Christ are called to "go to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach."

What does this mean?

(1). A New Covenant believer is not afraid to call himself "the chief of sinners" (I Timothy 1:15). A church that does not understand the New Covenant and lives by Old Covenant principles points a finger at those "outside the camp" and considers them vile and horrible. Old Covenant churches have an "us vs. them" mentality. "Those people out there" are vile and wicked, but we who are "in the camp" are not. Truth is, when a sinner goes outside the camp to embrace Christ, bearing His reproach, he identifies himself as one of the least, the last, the little and the lost - the outcast.

(2). A New Covenant believer is more concerned with relationships than religion.   "Let us go to Him outside the gate." Churches who have a camp mentality are designed to make life comfortable for those inside the camp.  Songs are sung because those singing enjoy others praising them for their voices. Messages are preached because those preaching enjoy the accolades of hearers. Programs and ministries are funded and staffed because those involved feel good about themselves for what they are doing. Churches based on Old Covenant principles are more interested in people in the camp feeling good about themselves than they are identifying with the least, the last, the little and the lost outside the camp and taking them to Christ. I've said it before, but its worth saying again, "The measure of greatness for any church is not how many it sits but how many it sends." Anything in a church that gives an "us vs. them" impression to the outside world is a church based on Old Covenant principles. The truth is, we ARE them; the only difference is we have come to Him.

(3). A New Covenant believer lives in freedom and pays little attention to what those in the camp think.  When a sinner comes to faith in Christ, the truth of what Christ has done sets the sinner free. The full forgiveness from God and the immeasurable love of God causes the believer to live life in an abundant fashion. Rather than living in bondage to expectations, perceptions, and demands of others, the New Covenant believer follows the Spirit and lives in real freedom.

In addition, for the sinner who meets Christ outside the camp, there is no longer any desire to put roots down in any city, organization or camp that will not last (Hebrews 13:14), for there is only a desire for "the city with foundations" whose Builder and Maker is God (Hebrews 11:10).

I am greatly encouraged from the Word of God to realize that my job is to not make people comfortable "in the camp" but to stretch us all to go "outside the camp" and identify with the least, the last, the little and the lost in order to lead them to the only One who takes away that which will truly destroy and gives to us that which we can eternally enjoy.


John said...

So, Outside the camp referred to outside the gate or out of Jerusalem? Am I correct? This is excellent writing, just want to understand better. If outside the camp means out of Jerusalem, is this why so many give credence that the Mt. of Olives may have actually been the site if the crucifixion Wade?

Rex Ray said...

So, when Stephen was killed backs up what you are saying about “outside the city”:

“Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him OUT OF THE CITY and began to stone him…” (Acts 7:57-58 NLT)

Off topic:
Since; “…he is sitting…at God’s right hand…” (Romans 8:34 NLT) “…Christ sits…at God’s right hand. “ (Colossians 3:1); why was Jesus “standing” when Stephen saw him in verse Acts 7:56?

The Criswell’s Study Bible explains: “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ…(1 John 2:1)” “An advocate is a lawyer. During ordinary court procedures the advocate is seated…if his client is attacked unfairly, the defending advocate is immediately on his feet, objecting. So, Christ appeared to be “standing” as He came to receive His client Stephen.”

The subject ‘Jesus sitting or standing’ is very insignificant with me. I believe when we die, we will meet Jesus just as the prodigal son was met by his father.

I think Criswell’s explanation is an example of fundamentalists trying to prove the Bible perfect. I believe the truth of their efforts came out when I asked Patterson if Criswell’s Bible got ALL the ‘supposed errors’ and he answered: “We got all we could.”

I believe, you’re ‘Right On’.

Aussie John said...


Thank you for bringing to bear sound Biblical thinking on this subject.

This New Covenant truth has wide ramifications in setting people free "in Christ".

I have recently seen a brother in Christ have his life radically changed by understanding the truth of the New Covenant, which I've been sharing.

So many dear brethren think they are free in Christ simply because they have been told they are so, when in fact they are still in bondage.

Wade Burleson said...


"Outside the city gate" is the New Testament description of the death of Christ. I believe the "outside the camp" sacrifice in the Old Testament is fulfilled in the "outside the city gate" death of Christ. I have heard people say Christ died on the Mt. of Olives. I have another view. Regardless of where He died, it is definitely at a location "outside the city gate."

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks Aussie!

Wade Burleson said...



Christiane said...

the thing about the Kingdom of God is that it will 'gather in' the outcasts who have suffered for Christ

sharing a hope-filled hymn: 'Gather Us In'

Here in this place, new light is streaming,
now is the darkness vanished away.
See, in this space, our fears and our dreamings,
brought here to you in the light of this day.
Gather us in - the lost and forsaken,
gather us in - the blind and the lame.
Call to us now, and we shall awaken,
we shall arise at the sound of our name.

We are the young - our lives are a mystery,
we are the old - who yearn for your face.
We have been sung throughout all of history,
called to be light to the whole human race.
Gather us in - the rich and the haughty,
gather us in - the proud and the strong.
Give us a heart so meek and so lowly,
give us the courage to enter the song.

Here we will take the wine and the water,
here we will take the bread of new birth.
Here you shall call your sons and your daughters,
call us anew to be salt for the earth.
Give us to drink the wine of compassion,
give us to eat the bread that is you.
Nourish us well, and teach us to fashion
lives that are holy and hearts that are true.

Not in the dark of buildings confining,
not in some heaven, light years away,
but here in this place, the new light is shining;
now is the Kingdom, now is the day.
Gather us in - and hold us forever,
gather us in - and make us your own.
Gather us in - all peoples together,
fire of love in our flesh and our bone.

Phil said...

The typology is an interesting insight I guess I never thought of. Of course that goat sent outside the camp was designated "for Azazel", which would underscore the interpretation that Christ descended into hell following his death.

It gets even more interesting in light of Enoch1. There Azazel is leader of the angels cast down from heaven. For his deception of man he is thrown, bound, into an abyss in the desert and covered in rock.

Many mystery religions worship(ed) this form of deity by way of meteoric rock. Also interesting, The Kaaba in Mecca houses the 'black stone', which was actually venerated by Mohammed in his pagan days. They believe this stone was thrown down from heaven in the days of Adam and Eve.