Any study of the history of Christianity will reveal the sheer brutality which the persecutors of the Lord Jesus visited on those who followed His teachings, His Truth and His Way. The first three centuries were highlighted by the blood of the martyrs, who laid the cornerstone for the Faith we enjoy today. The first to shed His Blood was the Master Himself - the Ancient of Days, the Great I Am - YHWH - Who descended to reconcile man back to God. He was nailed to a Cross, suffered and died by evil men - Romans and Jews.
Stephen was the first martyr of the modern church, led outside the gates (outside the camp as verse 13 above says) to be stoned by priests. Present was one zealot by the name of Saul. When Christ saved Saul on the Road to Damascus and changed his name to Paul, the latter spent and give his life in hot pursuit of souls to make up for what he had done to followers of the Way in the past. Every disciple of Jesus Christ was martyred except John. He wrote the Books of John, 1/2/3 John and the Revelation of Jesus Christ and died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 95.
The protective valley of Pella, Jordan, where God sent the first
Christians from Jerusalem to save them from Titus (AD 70)
Photo Credit: www.bibleistrue.com
When Jerusalem fell to the Roman General Titus in 70 AD as prophesied by Jesus Himself in detail in Matthew 24, not one Jewish Christian was killed because the Lord had removed His remnant and hidden them in a place called Pella. The Book of Hebrews was written, before this crucial event, to some of these same brethren to encourage them as they were persecuted by the Pharisees. The Lord knew this was coming down and wanted His elect to be fully aware of what they believed. The majority heeded the advice of the Apostle Paul in this Book and while the Romans killed millions at Masada and by starvation etc. in Jerusalem, King Herod Aggripa II welcomed the Elect to Pella. Pella is a city in the Decapolis which is just beyond the Jordan River.
To the Jew of the period, Jerusalem was the sacred and eternal City of God. The Good News is - Jerusalem STILL IS and will always be! But verse 14 above instructs those of us who are now in a spiritual "Pella" that this city is still to come. It is known in Scripture as the "NEW JERUSALEM". This is a part of our history, as believers, to which scant attention is paid.
We can look at End Times prophesy, as pre-Wrath/pre-tribulation believers, and
|Petra, Jordan, future hiding |
place of the Jewish Remnant
OUTSIDE THE CAMP
But what does this "outside the camp" really mean? Well, the answer is actually in the brief passage above! Followers of Jesus Christ know His Word and His Word dwelleth within. Therefore, we instinctively know that Scripture explains Scripture, because the Same Holy Spirit Who inspired the writers of the Bible to physically write down these words, lives inside everyone who is truly born again and rejuvenated, as adopted son or daughter of Abba.
Verse 12 (Hebrews 13) says Jesus suffered outside the gate...that He may continue to mold us into His Image (sanctify). We know He was crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem and died for the sins of all mankind, for all time. Therefore we are to "remain outside the gates" of the world as well, so that we remain worthy of being continually cleansed into spiritual growth, by His Precious Cleansing Supernatural Blood.
This means while we live in this world, our entire being - body/mind/soul - are to be set apart OUTSIDE of this corrupt system of the evil one in order to be aligned with His Holiness, His Truth, His Cleansing Power and His Righteousness. Anything else is anathema. Any other doctrine is the doctrine of demons. Any compromise to co-exist outside of the Will of God is idolatry and all three of these will be punished in the Judgment. We must NOT defile the sacrifice He made outside the Gate on Calvary, by running back into the City of Sin and its closed walls of death.
Verse 13 (Hebrews 13) gives us the road map of where we are to land, once we have made the conscious and intellectual decision to allow His Sanctification into His Image and Likeness. There is a work to be done. This work is not for the purpose of salvation but for the principle of submission. Here is where the majority of professing Christians in the western hemisphere (mostly North America and even Australia/the UK) have a problem. The verse says "let us go to Him outside the camp BEARING HIS REPROACH"!
There is a cost to this. We are not going to be loved and tolerated, even by those who like to talk about "love and tolerance". The biggest enemy of the true church is, get this - the apostate church! We already know who the atheists are and their modus operandi. We already see what false religions are doing to God's people in the Middle East, Nigeria, North Africa and Asia. But it is those who claim the Name of Jesus and constantly select out of context phrases from the Sermon on the Mount, while rejecting the Diety of Christ and the Inerrancy of the Word, are stumbling blocks. You and I will lose many of these as friends. Some of them walked with us, ate with us, and even went to church with us....but when the rubber met the road and then it came to the point of going outside the Culture and the demands of the Corrupt modern societal norms, they walked from Jesus just like those "disciples" of John 6:66. Are you ready to bear the reproach...which in today's definition means - the insults, mocking and cursing by the lost because you and I have Jesus Christ as our LORD and Savior? Only those to whom Jesus is LORD will persevere to the end.
Verse 14 (Hebrews 13) is the reward as well as the exhortation to not look back on the door that just slammed behind us as we walked away from the perishing of this evil world (in spirit and in truth). He says "we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come". Therefore what He (the Spirit) means is what the old baseball legend, Satchel Paige from the old Negro Leagues of 100 years ago once said "Don't look back, something mighty be gaining on you"!
This word specifically implies that the former abode from which Christ rescues us - IS NOT GOING TO LAST! Thus, He wants us, because we are now being molded and shaped into what Christ wants ....and because we have gone outside the gates, and turned from the fleeting/useless love and praise of mortal men into the growing in grace and maturity of the True Worshipper by taking the heat as a Disciple, we can now keep our eyes up to the skies, from whence cometh our help!
That help is the home which He first promised us in John 14:1 ("in My Father's House there are many rooms"). Those "rooms" reside in the Eternal City of the New Jerusalem! This eternal and everlasting city, where none of the filth, corruption, political correctness, distractions and diabolical plans of this current system exist, is the 100% REAL hope of the Believer.
This will be the home of Stephen, stoned outside Jerusalem while the future Apostle Paul held the coats of his murderers.
This will be the home of Paul, beheaded in Rome by Nero.
This will be the home of Polycarp who refused to bow and burn incense to an evil one like Caesar.
This will be the home of Athanasius, St. Nicholas, John Hus, Tyndale, Wightman, Jim Elliott, Pastor Saeed and the millions and millions of Christians from 100 AD until now whose names are only known to our Great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This will be the home of those of us, who take up our Crosses daily, live outside their gates, knowing Who bought us with His Life, and is now maturing us into the men and women of God, that He wishes all could be. Amen