Without the Camp

Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach” (Heb 13:13).[1]

In the above expression, the term “camp” refers to the world in its different aspects: its pleasures, its politics, its ambitions and its principles. In this article we shall be looking at five individuals who “went forth without the camp” in obedience to the mind and will of God. Each one of them is an example to believers of this present time.

Abraham Went Out of Ur and Haran

“And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there …. Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee” (Gen 11:31; 12:1).

It is well known that Abraham is a lesson in faith, but he was equally a “stranger and pilgrim” as those spoken of in Hebrews 11:13 and 1 Peter 2:11. It would be no understatement to say that Abraham was a pilgrim, for he left all behind him, and in Genesis 12-25 we discover that he would have covered a distance of over 1,000 miles. We may not journey as much as Abraham did, but, like him, we are able to say that “here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb 13:14).

Isaac Went Out of Gerar

“And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there …. And he went up from thence to Beersheba” (Gen 26:17,23).

Abraham was a man that built a number of altars – he was a worshipper. Jacob erected four pillars, testimonies to important events in his life. No less than five times, Isaac dug wells. He was a man that labored to find water for his family and his flocks. He was a prosperous man, much blessed by God, and left his lands behind him by leaving Gerar to settle finally in Beersheba. In Genesis 35:27-29 we read of the death of Isaac, and it was in Hebron that Esau and Jacob buried him.

Rahab Went Out of Jericho

“And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel …. And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive … because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho” (Jos 6:23,25).

Joshua had sent two men to spy out Jericho. We may wonder why they stayed in the house of a woman who lived from her sinful activities. Certainly, two strange men in such a place would provoke no questions, and we discover that Rahab, despite her reputation, was a woman willing to risk her life to shelter these men because she feared God. But had the men of the city found out what she had done, she would have undoubtedly been put to death. The two spies gave her a scarlet thread to hang in the window. This was her protection, as was the blood on the doorposts of the people of Israel in Egypt to protect their firstborn when the angel of the Lord passed over the land. Henceforth, her future was with the people of Israel, and her name figures in the Lord’s genealogy of Matthew 1.

Zerubbabel Went Out of Babylon

“Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city; which came with Zerubbabel …” (Ezr 2:1-2).

In Haggai 1:1, we see a prophet (Haggai), a priest (Joshua) and a king (Zerubbabel) together with a single purpose, that of restoring the service of God at Jerusalem. It would have been easier to simply reconstitute this service in Babylon, but Zerubbabel had learned the truth of what has been termed “the place of the Name” (see Mat 18:20). There was only one place to build the house, and that was at Jerusalem. The believer has no denominational title, for he belongs to no denomination but is happy to meet with God’s people “without the camp.”

Ruth Went Out of Moab

“Then she [Naomi] arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab …. And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house …. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried” (Rut 1:6,8,16,17).

Ruth and Orpah were married to the two sons of Elimelech and Naomi. The two men died, leaving Ruth and Orpah widows without children. Naomi and Ruth left Moab and came to Bethlehem. It was when Ruth was gleaning in Boaz’s field that she encountered Boaz, who subsequently redeemed Ruth, who then became his wife. Their son Obed was the father of Jesse, the father of David. We see in the genealogy that Luke gives us how the Lord Jesus descended directly from David and was thus legitimately the king of Israel. And so, in the purposes of God, the departure of Ruth from Moab had consequences that none could have imagined.

Down through the centuries, believers in the Lord Jesus have often been led to leave different religious organizations to meet in all simplicity to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ “outside the camp” in the same spirit as those that went before them, namely Abraham, Isaac, Rahab, Zerubbabel and Ruth. The words of the hymn “Outside the Camp” express these blessed truths:

“Outside the camp unto Thy dear Name,
Lord, may I here be found;
Weaned from the world, with its pomp and its fame;
Resting on holy ground.

Outside the camp in Thy presence till
Earth’s little day be done;
Then face to face, all Thy mercies to trace,
Inside the veil with Thee.”

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV.