Outside the Camp
Stories from: Dr Flip Buys, Associate International Director of World Reformed Fellowship and President Mukhanyo Theological College, South Africa
The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. Hebrews 13: 11-13
In the times before Christ was born, baby girls were considered worthless. Infant girls were often thrown away as trash on ash heaps to die. Baby girls were considered a liability. In essence, it was permitted by law to leave them outside the city on the dung heap to die.
But then an amazing thing happened: A growing group of people developed that went outside the city to the dung heaps to find and rescue the abandoned baby girls. Their decision was both risky and sacrificial. They had to stand up against the mainstream of the traditions and culture of the people. They sacrificed their time and goods to save and raise someone else’s redundant baby girl. In this way they had to extend the circle of their responsibility and took the burden on themselves to care for these children.
When people asked this group of people: Why are you doing this? Why are you sacrificing yourselves to save these thrown away kids? They would humbly smile and say: “Because our King, our Savior, Jesus did that for us. He picked us up from the dung heaps of our sin and shame on our way to hell, he embraced us, cleansed us, healed us and raised us to become part of his family and now we are part of his rescue team."
Current Story to Illustrate this further:
In one of the villages in KwaNdebele a widow who had only one son of 7 years old sent him into the field one day to collect firewood. She only had a long knife (a “panga”or “machetta”) to chop the wood. He made a mistake and almost chopped off the heel of his left foot so that blood was spouting out. He remembered where the medical clinic in the village is and walked back to the clinic in tears of pain. Every time he placed his right foot on the ground a track of blood was left behind. He continued although he had to walk 6 km.
Fortunately when he arrived at the clinic there was a nurse and a visiting doctor and they could quickly help him to stitch up the wound and put a bandage around it.
While they were still working with him, his mother ran into the clinic screaming out with tears: “Where is my boy? Where is my boy”. They quickly calmed her down and assured her that the son is OK and will be healed soon. But then they asked her: “Mama, how did you know he was here, because he came straight from the field to the clinic.”
While she was smiling she said: “When he was staying away for hours I went to look for him in the field. I was horrified to see the blood and thought he has died, or abducted by an evil medicine man to use parts of his body for witchcraft medicines as it sometimes happens in our area. But then I followed the track of blood and that has leaded me straight to this clinic. Here I found him.”
All the ritual sacrifices in the Old Testament were just tracks of blood, leading to Jesus Christ on the cross. His suffering and dying outside of the city of Jerusalem was the final sacrifice. After him no more sacrifices are needed. If you follow the “track of blood” right through the Old Testament and see how they came to completion in Christ, you will find the Son of the living God who has been slaughtered as the Lamb of God to cover all the shame of our sins and grant us utter and total forgiveness of God through Him.
Lord, thank you for showing us the way, for caring for those the world turns their back on. To stand for justice, speak out against corruption, to love the unwanted, to care for the marginalized and poor. This is what you call us to. Give us the courage to go with you outside of the camp. Help us to bare the abuse that may come as you bore it for us all.
Hebrews 13:15-16 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is please.