The Tabernacle—without the camp
“And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.” Exodus 33:7
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 13:9-16
This going out of the camp will involve much inconvenience. Some try to get over the inconvenience in the way Joshua did, they think they will come out of the camp altogether and live in the tabernacle, and then there will be no difficulty. You know there are many pious minds, a little over-heated with imagination, who think, that if they have never mixed with the world they could be holy. No doubt they would like to have a building erected, in which they could live, and pray, and sing all day, and never go to business, nor have anything at all to do with buying and selling. Thus they think by going without the camp they should become the people of God. In this however, they mistake the aim and object of the Christian religion—“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” That were an easy, lazy subterfuge, for getting rid of the hard task of having to fight for Christ. To go out of the battle in order that you may win the victory, is a strange method indeed of seeking to become “more than conquerors!” No, no, we must be prepared, like Moses, to go into the camp and to come out of it; always to come out of it when we seek fellowship with God, but still to be in it; to be mixed up with it, to be in the midst of it doing the common acts of man, and yet never being tainted by its infection, and never having the spirit troubled by that sin and evil which is so rampant there. I counsel you, not that you should come out of the world, but that being in it, you should be so distinctly not of it, that all men may see that you worship the Father outside the camp of their common association and their carnal worship.
For meditation: As in everything the Lord Jesus Christ is our perfect example—not of the world, but most certainly in it (John 17:14-18), separate from sinners ( Hebrews 7:26) and yet able to be called the friend of sinners (Luke 7:34 and 15:2).
Sermon no. 359
10 February (1861)