More About Witnesses
Witnesses are needed to establish truth on the earth. This law permeates all aspects of life and every manner of obtaining truth, including the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There are both external and internal witnesses to establish truth on different levels. John bore witness of Jesus (John 1:15), but Jesus also spoke of a deeper witness of the Father (John 5:37). It is of critical importance that we understand the law of witnesses, for if we abuse this law, we either become false witnesses, or else we are deceived by false witnesses.
John the Baptist was called to bear witness of the Messiah. He was the forerunner, the one preparing the way, and no one else in his day had his calling as the Messiah’s witness. Afterward, of course, all the disciples bore witness of Him when they were given the Great Commission, and this illustrates a very important principle.
The Witness of Marriage
In a marriage, husband and wife are naturally called to be each other’s witness. If the marriage functions as it was intended from the beginning, each is equipped to hear the voice of God in a different way, yet complementary to the other. Man was created in the image of God, and we know that God is complete, lacking nothing. God is both male and female and has revealed Himself to mankind in both ways at different times. At first, God revealed Himself as feminine under the name El Shaddai, as we read in Gen. 17:1,
1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, Yahweh appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai….”
It is interesting that, when read literally, Yahweh revealed Himself to Abram as El Shaddai, the mothering side of God, while Yahweh is the Fatherly name revealed later to Moses in Exodus 6:2, 3,
2 God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am Yahweh, 3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai; but by My name Yahweh I did not make Myself known to them.”
Hence, we see that Yahweh and El Shaddai are the same God, but while Abraham knew Him as El Shaddai, Moses knew Him as Yahweh. El Shaddai means “the breasted one,” coming from the root word shad, “a breast.”
El Shaddai, then, is the feminine side of God, showing God’s motherhood in bringing forth creation and nurturing creation as a mother nurtures her young child. But the time comes when a child must receive training, education, and discipline from the father. Hence, God later revealed Himself to Moses as a Father when the time came to teach His ways to His children.
But after man was separated into male and female, each needed the other to be complete. And so we see that God is both male and female, as revealed in Scripture. God is complete, and when Adam was first formed on the earth, he too was complete, for he was in the image of God.
But because the law of the double witness was part of God’s character, He separated man into male and female, taking Eve out of Adam in Gen. 2:21-23. Upon separation, the man spiritually resembled Yahweh, while the woman resembled El Shaddai. The man’s ears were naturally tuned to hear the voice of Yahweh, while the woman’s ears were naturally tuned to hear the voice of El Shaddai. The “tone” of voice would be different, and the voice of God usually emphasized different aspects of truth geared toward their gender, but when the man and the woman shared their revelation of truth, they found each revelation harmonious and complementary.
Ideally, this was how it was to work in a marriage. As long as both had the ability to hear God’s voice, there was unity, and there was no need for one to exercise authority over the other. The two revelations complemented each other and completed the revelation.
Sin, however, has taken its toll upon us and has dulled our hearing, reduced our ability to love, and induced us to seek to overpower our spouse and subject him/her to our own will. When marital conditions are imperfect, communication breaks down between them, and people also lose the ability to hear God’s voice properly. Heart idols deceive us and twist the word of God according to our own desires, assumptions, or strong beliefs. Agreement and unity suffers, both in the family and in the community, church, or nation.
It is for this reason God instituted authority in the family, giving the man authority over his wife (Gen. 3:16). It was not this way at the beginning, when husband and wife were in submission to the will of God alone. But sin made authority necessary in view of the corruption that came with sin.
In a family, husband and wife are called to bear witness within the family unit. If that breaks down, there are alternatives that might provide a substitute, such as a pastor or prophet. Single people may also receive a double witness from those outside sources. But the natural God-given double witness is one’s spouse, and in some situations, the spouse’s witness takes precedence over all other earthly witnesses.
Another principle that I was shown many years ago is that a true witness is an independent witness. I recall once being told to “get a word from God” that put pressure upon me to bear witness to the word that a prophet had already received. I knew that if I did not bear witness to his word, there would be unpleasant consequences. The prophet was not looking for truth, but for someone to bear witness to his word. In other words, he had already received a word, which he assumed to be true, and so he was out to find the one who would bear witness to that word. Hence, anyone who received a contrary revelation was assumed to be wrong.
I remembered this years later when my wife and I broke through into what I call “New Covenant marriage.” After I came to see her as my double witness, I learned that I had to provide her with the opportunity to provide an independent witness, or else it was not a true double witness. If she simply submitted to my word and agreed with me to avoid conflict, then she was not a true witness, but a slave.
For example, in July 1993 I received revelation that we were move to Seattle. I shared this with my wife. She wisely reminded me of a previous revelation that when we moved West, we would move debt-free. At the time, we were carrying $4,000 in credit card debt, and to make such a move would cost us another $4,000 for moving expenses, first and last month rent in Seattle, and a house deposit.
Because she hesitated, I immediately backed away to allow God to give her a double witness without my intrusion. She testified later that when she saw that I was willing to set aside my revelation without her witness, and that I would not think less of her if she never bore witness to such a move, she knew beyond any doubt that I was seeking an independent witness. She knew that if she did not bear witness to such a move, I would be content to remain in Arkansas, and she would not suffer consequences for disagreeing with my revelation.
Well, God did give her a double witness two months later. In September 1993 I was asked to teach in the Dallas area, and while I was there, a letter arrived at home containing two checks for $4,000 each. My wife opened the letter, of course. Since I was not there at the time, it was as if this was given for her benefit. She could hardly wait for me to call her by phone, so that she could tell me that we were going to move to Seattle.
The point is that I was careful not to coerce her into bearing witness. If she had never provided that witness, my love for her would not have diminished, nor would I have thought less of her ability to hear God’s voice. Instead, I would have assumed that my revelation was untrue, or that it was simply not time yet to move to Seattle.
The Double Witness Provides Timing
This leads me to another important point. Often a double witness reveals timing. It is not enough to know what to do; one must also know when to do it. Sometimes God will give some instruction far ahead of time. This is especially true when we need training before we are able to fulfill the revelation (or calling). We often assume that when God says to do something, we should do so immediately, but this is not always the case. God often uses the double witness to reveal timing.
For example, Pharaoh had two dreams, which Joseph interpreted. In Gen. 41:17-20 we read that he dreamed of seven sleek cows, followed by seven lean cows that ate up the sleek cows. Then he had a second dream, in which he saw seven healthy ears of grain, followed by seven thin ears of grain that swallowed up the good ears.
Joseph was called up from prison to interpret his dreams. Joseph told him that there would be seven good years of harvest, followed by seven years of famine. Then in verse 32, Joseph told him the principle of the double witness, saying,
32 Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined [kuwn, “established”] by God, and that God will quickly bring it about.
In other words, the two dreams “established” the revelation. The Hebrew word used is kuwn, which means “to establish.”
God gave Pharaoh two dreams, not only as a double witness, but also to show him that this was to come to pass “quickly.” It gave Pharaoh a sense of urgency and timing, so that they began to make immediate plans to store food for the next seven years.
It is imperative that we understand the law of the double witness as we seek to hear God’s voice more perfectly. If we understand that we are naturally incomplete, being either male or female, we will appreciate the double witness as a hedge of protection against heart idolatry. Of course, if our heart idolatry prevails, we will chafe at the restrictions imposed upon us by this law of the double witness.
Food Laws and the Double Witness
Finally, we should draw attention to the laws of eating clean spiritual food. In Lev. 11:2-7 it is revealed that clean animals chew the cud and have a cloven hoof. That is, when we “eat” (hear) God’s word, it is only clean when we meditate upon it and allow the Spirit of God to provide a double witness to all that is true. The word must stand on a cloven hoof, that is, a double witness.
If we do not respect the law of the double witness, we will be driven by our own heart idols without realizing it. If teachers and preachers expect others to swallow their teaching without allowing them the liberty to meditate and discern and to obtain a double witness, then the teaching is unclean, regardless of its truth content. Food preparation is as important as the food itself, both in the natural realm and in the spiritual.
Let us remember that we are what we eat. More specifically, we are what we assimilate. A cow eats grass, swallowing it into its first stomach. Later, it lies down to chew its cud, bringing the food back to its mouth to prepare it for assimilation in its second stomach. If it did not chew the cud, the cow would starve to death, because the grass cannot be assimilated in its first stomach.
There is a great lesson to be learned in this. “All flesh is grass” (Isaiah 40:6). Whatever we eat is only “flesh” until we chew the cud and allow the Holy Spirit to make it spiritual. This does not mean we must allegorize all of the Scriptures, as some have done. It means that the word must become revelation to us. Preaching and teaching the Word is good, but it is only grass until we chew the cud. When the word is thus assimilated, we become what we eat, and we become the living word.
If the word that we eat is clean, then Jesus’ words apply to us in John 15:3 (NASB),
3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Man is an unclean creature and is cleansed only by the revelation of the word which he assimilates. Man has no cloven hoof, does not chew the cud, and has no fins or scales. We need cleansing, and assimilating His word is the only solution. The law of the double witness provides us with one of the guidelines that ensure cleansing, so that we may become clean vessels through which He may show forth His glory.