It's an incredible passage! "For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp." (Hebrews 13:11) Doesn't that verse grip your heart? Doesn't it make you want to share the gospel with children everywhere? The truth is that "outside the camp" wasn't a pretty scene for the ancient Hebrews, and it's far from pleasing to us today.
Inside the camp was security, comfort, worship, pleasure, miracles, protection, provision, safety, and life. But the phrase "outside the camp" conjured up all kids of negative thoughts and feelings for the Hebrew people each time they heard it. Leviticus sheds light on the phrase for us. In 16:27 we read that the bodies of the bulls (skin, guts, and all) were burned outside the camp--not inside the camp where people lived and worshiped. Outside the camp the smell of death and burned corpses lingered.
It gets worse. Leviticus 13:45-46 tells us that those who contracted the deadly disease of leprosy were sent outside the camp--alone. It didn't matter if they were loved family members, close friends, or gentle grandpas and grandmas. They were sent to the place designated for the despised and people to avoid.
It gets even worse than that! Leviticus 24:13 says that any person who cursed and blasphemed God was sent outside the camp and stoned to death. Outside the camp was a precarious, disgusting place of abhorrent people and deathly smells. It was a smelly, dirty, and dangerous place. It surely wasn't the kind of place you would plan as your next vacation spot!
Then the author of Hebrews writes, "Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate." The King of kings did not even receive a kingly death, but instead He experienced torment in death and in the very place no one wanted to be--outside the gate.
He also spent most of His time there. Jesus spent time with persons the Pharisees would not have: smelly, dirty, and despised people, and Jesus loved them, and many believed in Him and were saved. Jesus was hated; partly because of the company he kept.
Are you ready for this next verse? You might want to sit down, because verse 13 is the clincher: "Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach." It's not a suggestion, is it? I believe the author is exclaiming, "Listen! We are the body of Jesus on earth. Therefore, we must act the way He acted when He was here; be willing to suffer what Jesus suffered." It's our calling. It's our purpose. It's our destiny.
What exactly is our purpose for living? To work, earn money, pay the bills, play church, raise kids, retire, and then die? It's evident to me that we were meant for so much more than these. I'm thankful to know my purpose; it drives me. It's to inspire and train believers to evangelize. You can join me! You can join the great purpose of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF)! Your prayer, financial, and volunteering all support this ministry which enables us all together to reach those whom no one else is reaching--all across Houston, the U.S., and even the world. Believe me. They are there.
I challenge you with this: CEF of Greater Houston has launched an initiative called RADIUS. Go to our newly revamped website, www.cefhouston.org, and click on the white box that says "RADIUS." Carefully read what it's all about, and prayerfully join the movement.
Then let's work hard together putting Christ on display by our willingness to suffer for Him outside the camp!
Serving you in evangelism to the children,
J Chad Barrett