The City To Come
In The Bible, the English word camp, or encampment, is used to translate the Hebrew word pronounced makh-en-eh, and the Greek word pronounced par-em-bole-ay. Both words are generally defined as a temporary place of habitation, in contrast to a city which is intended to be permanent. A camp is temporary, while a city is forever, just as physical life is temporary, while spiritual life is forever.
The Israelite Camp During The Wilderness Years
During the time of their Wilderness Journey, The Lord gave the Israelites specific instructions on how they were to establish their encampment around The Tabernacle In The Wilderness:
"The Lord [see Rock Of Ages and The Logos] said to Moses and Aaron, "The people of Israel shall encamp each by his own standard, with the ensigns of their fathers' houses; they shall encamp facing the tent of meeting on every side."
"Those to encamp on the east side toward the sunrise shall be of the standard of the camp of Judah by their companies, the leader of the people of Judah being Nahshon the son of Amminadab, his host as numbered being seventy-four thousand six hundred. Those to encamp next to him shall be the tribe of Issachar, the leader of the people of Issachar being Nethanel the son of Zuar, his host as numbered being fifty-four thousand four hundred. Then the tribe of Zebulun, the leader of the people of Zebulun being Eliab the son of Helon, his host as numbered being fifty-seven thousand four hundred. The whole number of the camp of Judah, by their companies, is a hundred and eighty-six thousand four hundred. They shall set out first on the march."
"On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben by their companies, the leader of the people of Reuben being Elizur the son of Shedeur, his host as numbered being forty-six thousand five hundred. And those to encamp next to him shall be the tribe of Simeon, the leader of the people of Simeon being Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, his host as numbered being fifty-nine thousand three hundred. Then the tribe of Gad, the leader of the people of Gad being Eliasaph the son of Reuel, his host as numbered being forty-five thousand six hundred and fifty. The whole number of the camp of Reuben, by their companies, is a hundred and fifty-one thousand four hundred and fifty. They shall set out second."
"Then the tent of meeting shall set out, with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camps; as they encamp, so shall they set out, each in position, standard by standard."
"On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim [see Coat Of Many Colors and Ephraim and Manasseh] by their companies, the leader of the people of Ephraim being Elishama the son of Ammihud, his host as numbered being forty thousand five hundred. And next to him shall be the tribe of Manasseh, the leader of the people of Manasseh being Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, his host as numbered being thirty-two thousand two hundred. Then the tribe of Benjamin, the leader of the people of Benjamin being Abidan the son of Gideoni, his host as numbered being thirty-five thousand four hundred. The whole number of the camp of Ephraim, by their companies, is a hundred and eight thousand one hundred. They shall set out third on the march."
"On the north side shall be the standard of the camp of Dan by their companies, the leader of the people of Dan being Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, his host as numbered being sixty-two thousand seven hundred. And those to encamp next to him shall be the tribe of Asher, the leader of the people of Asher being Pagiel the son of Ochran, his host as numbered being forty-one thousand five hundred. Then the tribe of Naphtali, the leader of the people of Naphtali being Ahira the son of Enan, his host as numbered being fifty-three thousand four hundred. The whole number of the camp of Dan is a hundred and fifty-seven thousand six hundred. They shall set out last, standard by standard."
"These are the people of Israel as numbered by their fathers' houses; all in the camps who were numbered by their companies were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty. But the Levites were not numbered among the people of Israel, as The Lord commanded Moses." (Numbers 2:1-33 RSV)
A Future "Camp Of The Saints," and the New Jerusalem
The "camp of the saints" will be established at The Return Of Jesus Christ. It will be replaced by the permanent city, the New Jerusalem, after the world has first been completely conquered by Jesus Christ, and then purified by being flooded with fire, just as the world was once purified by being flooded with water:
The Camp Of The Saints
"And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations [see Could Satan Repent?] which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast [see The Antichrist] and the false prophet [see The Great False Prophet] were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it; from His presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:7-15 RSV)
Then, The Earth Will Be Purified With Fire
"First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation." They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men."
"But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with The Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
"But the day of The Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up."
"Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to His promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:3-13 RSV) (see Planet On Fire!)
Then, The New Jerusalem
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them; He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."
"And He who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also He said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true."
"And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars [see The Ten Commandments and The Ten Commandments Now?], their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:1-8 RSV)
Fact Finder: Did the apostle Paul refer to the present temporary human life as an existence in a tent? Did he also say that we should look forward to a permanent spiritual city?
2 Corinthians 5:1-4 and Hebrews 11:9-10
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This Week's Bible Quiz
What was the name of these women of the Bible?
1. The mother of John the Baptist?
2. The only recorded female who was a prophetess, judge and a military leader all in one?
3. The sister of Jacob/Israel's twelve sons?
4. The two sisters of Lazarus?
5. The first human to see the risen Jesus Christ?
6. The sister of Moses and Aaron?
7. The wife of Jacob/Israel who died near Bethlehem, where her tomb is seen today?
8. The wife of Isaac?
9. The wife of Abraham?
10. The mother of King Solomon?
For the answers to this February 12 2002 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page