Outside the Camp...
“And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the lower part of the mountain.” (Exodus 19:17)
This is the first of more than 30 references to events that took place outside the camp of the Israelites in the wilderness under Moses. In this first mention, it was “outside the camp” that God first met with His people and gave them the Ten Commandments. The first temporary tabernacle was also “pitched . . . outside the camp” (Exodus 33:7).
However, when the regular tabernacle was established, it was placed in the midst of the camp, and the camp was considered holy before the Lord. “For the LORD thy God walks in the midst of the camp . . . therefore the camp shall be holy” (Deuteronomy 23:14).
Accordingly, anything unclean was commanded to be banned from the camp (vv. 10-13), including even “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).
Sad to say, however, the camp and the sanctuary did not remain holy, and God, in judgment, finally had to remove it from its place. Before its final removal, however, He whose blood had been foreshadowed by all the sacrifices did come personally to His people “to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). This sacrifice, however, could no longer be offered in the defiled sanctuary. “Wherefore Jesus also . . . suffered outside the gate” (Hebrews 13:12).
Now again, as in the beginning, God must meet with His loved ones personally, outside the camp. The organized “camps” of religion generally treat His disciples as misfits, and so, like outcasts, they must seek Him outside the camp. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him outside the camp, bearing his reproach”
Martin Luther’s prayer at the Diet of Worms
Almighty, eternal God! How dreadful is the world! Behold how its mouth opens to swallow me up, and how small is my faith in You!
O the weakness of the flesh and the power of Satan! If I am to depend upon any strength from this world, all is lost. O my God! Help me against all the wisdom of this world. Do this, I beg You.
The work is not mine, but Yours. I have no business here. I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world! I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace. But the cause is Yours, my Lord; and it is righteous and everlasting! Stand by me! O faithful and unchangeable God! I lean not upon man. It would be vain!
You have chosen me for this work. I know it! Therefore, O God, accomplish Your own will! Stand by me in the name of Jesus Christ, who will be my shelter and my shield, yes, my mighty fortress, through the might and strengthening of the Holy Spirit.
I am ready, even to lay down my life for this cause, patient as a little lamb. For the cause is holy. It is Your own. Though this world be filled with devils, and though my body, originally the work and creation of Your hands, go to destruction in this cause — yes, though it be shattered into pieces — Your Word and Your Spirit they are good to me still! It concerns only the body. The soul is Yours. It belongs to You and will also remain with You forever. God help me.