Christianity · Church · Community · Devotional · Faith · Holy Nation

Outside the Camp – B

As mentioned in our first post (Outside the Camp – A), I had just finished a study in Matthew 8, of Jesus cleansing a leper (See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus) and was in discussion with my favorite wifey. We considered the following two verses and started comparing lepers with believers.

Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. – Hebrews 13:13

He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. – Leviticus 13:46

This post will continue with our thoughts and hopefully provide an opportunity for my readers to discuss additional parallels you may see between lepers and the New Testament believer.

Both communities consist of people who live under a death sentence.

The leper understood the disease would kill him and lived with this truth everyday, as their nerve endings quit working, organs began to shut down and their vision began to slip away.

The New Testament believer is also to understand his day to day experience of living under a death sentence, of carrying a cross and dying daily while in the Christian community. Our experiential feelings of love and belonging to this old world is to die as we grow closer to the One who delivered us.

Both communities have no one else they can trust in.

Both communities, as they experience separation from the greater society, naturally learn to trust in their own community and hopefully in the God who protects and guides them. For the typical modern church adherent, this need for trust within the community is fostered through relationships beyond the Sunday morning entertainment hour. Both communities, in reality have only One they can trust in for their lives.

Both communities experience suffering.

The leper would experience the suffering of exclusion and rejection, of the constant reminder of being out of the camp, away from family and friends. Much of the pain the leper would experience would not be associated with the physical realm, since they could not feel any pain as the nerves died. The suffering would be emotional and spiritual, since it appeared that their disease separated them from the God of the universe.

The New Testament believer also experiences suffering, but in our situation, the suffering may also include physical pain, along with the mental, emotional and spiritual suffering referred to above.

Both communities need to to be thankful for pain

The lack of pain for the leper sometimes caused greater damage to their body, as the leper would inadvertently allow further damage to their body by not recognizing the pain. A case in point is the common occurrence of a leper picking up a hot item, burning their skin and allowing this damage to continue.

The pain we normally experience is actually a gift, in that it guards us from unnecessary damage. The church is to be thankful for the pain of association with the Lord, as the early apostles gave witness. Sad to say, this avoidance of pain is actually encouraged in the modern church, under the teaching that we are to have our best lives now, that we as “children of the King” should only have blessing and good things in our lives. Pain and suffering is to be rejected by simply claiming healing or relief. Some of this teaching actually recommends we command God to remove pain.

Our thoughts on this connection between a leper and a believer are incomplete at best. As you read through this series on lepers and believers, and thoughts came to mind, please comment below. If you know someone this post may bless, send them a link so they may join us also.


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Christianity · Church · Community · Devotional · Faith · Holy Nation

Outside the Camp – A

I recently finished a study in Matthew 8, of Jesus cleansing a leper (See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus), and was chatting with my favorite wife during our Saturday morning tea time, rocking in our rocking chairs, and enjoying each other’s company.

We chatted about what I had found during my study. Lepers were considered rejects and outcasts, and were required to live “outside the camp”. As soon as that term was mentioned, I thought of Hebrews, where the apostle (or his representative) wrote.

Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. – Hebrews 13:13

As I studied the previously mentioned miracle, I recalled one other time this phrase occurred. It was in Leviticus 13, where Moses defined the lepers banishment from the camp. The leper was to be quarantined from those in the camp, and were forced to be “outside of the camp”

He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. – Leviticus 13:46

Am I correct in thinking the author of Hebrews is actually equating Jesus with those who were outside of the camp, and exhorting believers to join Him outside the camp. He writes of the reproach the Lord Jesus endured, being outside the camp. To bear reproach is to experience disapproval, criticism and/or disappointment. The religious body of the nation of Israel surely poured reproach on the Lord Jesus in their dogged criticism of His teaching and His character. This reproach intensified until the ultimate rejection by the religious elite , resulting in the execution of God, the cruel crucifixion of Israel’s King.

As I have learned through my four decades of learning of the Word and the Author of life, “religion kills”. Only in the Lord Jesus do we find the source of life and His life is found through going to him, outside the camp.

This seed thought got us to thinking. Is not the church called out to be different (holy) and incur the reproach of the world? In what other ways does this description of a lepers’ colony help us understand the parallel existence of the New Testament church?

Let’s consider.

Both communities are rejected by the society they are associated with.

This parallel is somewhat obvious. Numbers 5:1-4 actually commands those in the camp to send lepers away, for they defile the camp.

In our New Testament experience, the tables flip somewhat, and “the camp”, defined in the Old Testament as being where God dwells (the nation of Israel), now is the very camp that has been rejected. To follow God, believers are to go to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. This is the very argument Hebrews brings to those first century believers associated with Judaism.

Both communities seek to be accepted by the society they are associated with.

As a comparison to the previous point, the leper most assuredly desired to be a part of the camp, to be accepted by the society he had been rejected by.

Sadly, it appears that during the church age, (if my understanding of church history is accurate), the established church has also sought acceptance of the world. This desire to be accepted seems evident in a couple ways in my understanding. Firstly, the established church sought acceptance by forcing morals upon the society, as in the medieval times, mixing spiritual authority with political force. Another way the church has sough to be accepted by society is to beg, or at least to mimic the society, in order to be accepted.

I am thankful that the church has had a remnant of believers walk away from the camp in order to maintain their allegiance to the One waiting for us outside the camp.

Both communities are small when compared to the society they are associated with.

Although highly contagious, the leper colony was to be isolated from the general populace and therefore be relatively small in relation to the camp. The infection could not spread if isolated.

So it is with the church, as it is a counter culture that has few that find it, that follow after Him and that openly confess Jesus as Lord.

It is challenging if we follow this metaphor of an infection a bit further and consider Christianity as an infectious disease that spreads rapidly if allowed.

Both communities are considered useless to the society they are associated with.

The leper colony was considered of no importance to the greater society, much like our modern society regards the church. Much of the disregard for the leper colony was due to their physical disfigurement and the ever present fear of infection. This disease resulted in a life of poverty, isolation and rejection. The greater society would not consider the leper colony of any importance.

Is not the church also considered a relic, a cast off that is not to be listened to. How often have you recently heard of the world’s desire to leave the church to history, forging a new society full of promise. The church is a “leper” in the world’s eyes. I suggest we embrace this attitude of the world towards us, in that we truly are a rejected people, and forgo any desire to join with them. Let us speak out as a conscience to a society that has no conscience, as ones who know the truth.

We may be considered useless to the world, but that isn’t our calling.

In closing, does it offend you that to be a believer is likened to a leper? Is there a social stigma with Christianity that is unacceptable to you, or that causes you a discomfort? Our life in Christ includes our dying to this old world and rejecting its opinion of the Master.

Our thoughts on the leper/believer connection will continue in our next post. As you read through this post, and thoughts came to mind, please comment below. If you know someone this post may bless, send them a link so they may join us also.


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