Worship Outside the Camp
Introduction. Five times in Hebrews the writer encourages us to move towards Jesus. (4:16;6:19-20;9:12,24;10:22) Each text gives us a specific reason for moving toward Jesus. (State each reason.) Each reason pictures us approaching Jesus in the spiritual, heavenly realm. The overarching reason the writer does this is to encourage us to move toward Jesus is so that we can worship Christ, since by his death we have open, complete access to God through him. Here in chapter thirteen (13), which actually serves as the conclusion to this sermonic letter. the writer continues to encourage us to move towards Jesus in faith. Yet, where he exhorts us to approach Christ at is not in the spiritual realm, but on earth. He contrasts the picture of worship at the altar in the temple in Jerusalem with the picture of Jesus our Lord bearing the abuse and shame of the cross on the trash dump called Gogatha, located outside the gates of the city. The writer encouraged the readers to worship Jesus outside the camp. Would they go there? Will we?
1. Christian worship involves going outside the gate (13:10-12). EXPL. The “scape goat.” (Leviticus 16 - Two very similar looking goats were brought to the high priest on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The priest cast lots as to which would be the scape goat. The one not chosen would be used for a burnt offering. The high priest would lay his hands on the second goat, symbolic of placing the sins of the people on the goat. Then they would send the goat out into an uninhabited area, and push it over a cliff to its death. Christians see Jesus in this way, as the sacrifice made outside the city walls, bearing the sins of the world. Jesus was driven out, and his body dumped outside the city. The meat sacrificed on Yom Kippur (bull and goat) legally could not be eaten. Verse ten states that this is the Christian’s altar from which those who still worship at the altar of the temple have no right to eat. APPL. Our altar of worship as Christians is Jesus Christ. It’s his blood that has been shed on the cross (our altar!) and that has atoned (provided forgiveness for) our sins. We are, according to the apostle Peter, “being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5) This is what it means to “go outside the camp.” Our altar is not in some glorious building, but on a hill outside the gates of Jerusalem, where our precious Lord bled and died. ILLUS. (of dead worship) A woman visited worship one Sunday in a liturgical church. As the pastor spoke, she got so caught up in the sermon that she cried out, “Praise the Lord!” The person sitting beside her said, “Excuse me, but we don’t ‘praise the Lord’ in this church,’ Overhearing what this woman said to the visitor, the man sitting next to her said, ‘Yes we do; it’s on page 19.” APPL. Christians leave dead religion behind and worship the living Lord Jesus Christ, neing prompted from the heart, and not because some book or order of worship tells us when or how, or even what to say. EXPL. The writer encouraged his readers not to be tempted to go back inside the temple walls to worship God. Only dead religion is practiced there.
2. Christian worship involves identifying with Jesus (13:13-14). EXPL. At vv. 13-14 we’re encouraged to go “outside the camp, bearing the disgrace her bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” Jesus our Lord predicted the destruction of the temple. (Matt. 24:1-2) It’s believed that Hebrews was written before Jerusalem was destroyed and the temple burned to the ground in 70 A.D. by the Romans. There could be a note of sarcasm in the writer’s words. He could be saying to them, “Why stay in a city that’s no longer yours? Your Lord has been rejected. Your place is outside the camp, the place of rejection and reproach. APPL. I hear a lot of talk of Christians being true to “biblical Christianity.” We don’t see much of that in today’s church. Christians today approach the church, as they have for a very long time, from the standpoint of what the church can do for them. We want the best looking, the one with the most to offer, the one that really meets my needs, the one where I can give my pittance and still get loving slaps on the back from all who are there. QUOTE. A.W. Tozer said, “Jesus was born of a virgin, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died on a cross, and rose from the grave to make worshipers out of rebels.” (Whatever Happened to Worship, p. 11) Rebels? Where do we see Christian rebels? Are we likely to find them in a local church? Not likely. But there are rebels out there. There are those who are committed to identifying with Jesus, which, if you understand biblical Christianity at all, is what it means to be a Christian rebel. There are those who have made the commitment to “go outside the camp” to serve Jesus. Christians from all walks of life have made this commitment. Christian ordained ministers, lay persons, and professionals have made a conscientious commitment to offer their lives to Jesus, “bearing the disgrace he bore.” In a country where, sadly, the church is considered irrelevant to anything going on in our society, and in our own state where over 70 percent of the population is unchurched (that is, affiliated with a local church), we see few signs of Christians (church members) being willing to bear the disgrace of Jesus. If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we spend most of our time trying to woo people into becoming members of our church than we do in training them to be disciples of Jesus whose commitment is so deep that they’ll willingly bear whatever shame and reproach to themselves is necessary to make Christ known. Compare ILLUS (QUOTE). Bill Elliot on Worship Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes, p. 811.
3. Christian worship involves sacrificing ourselves (13:15-16).
A. In continuous praise (13:15). Charles Spurgeon. “Wash your face every morning in a bath of praise.”
B. In doing good (13:16a).
C. In pleasing God (13:16b)