Sarah and the New Covenant
Love is what gives meaning to life. Without love, life is merely a marathon, a test of endurance. An unloved woman—such as Jacob’s wife, Leah—will always suffer for it, and her children are traumatized as well. Whereas Hagar is the primary pattern of the Old Covenant, Leah is a strong secondary pattern. Jacob married both Leah and Rachel. Leah was first, Rachel was last, but Jacob did not love Leah as he did Rachel. Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah first. And so, Leah was a mere pawn in her father’s game.
We learn from Leah that the children of the Old Covenant are much more numerous than the children of the New Covenant (Rachel). Leah had six children, while Rachel had only two—and even these were born last. Jacob’s dysfunctional children from Leah sold Rachel’s son into Egypt as a slave. This shows both the pattern of slavery itself and the Egypt factor, even as we have seen with Hagar, the Egyptian, who is in bondage with her children.
The New Covenant Marriage Based on Love
A New Covenant marriage is based upon love. Even if we do not begin our marriage with the capability of Agape love in its purest form, we are to develop that art as the Lord leads us. Ultimately, God teaches us not only to love in our actions, but to become love, even as He is love. 1 John 4:18 says,
18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
There are different levels of love portrayed in the New Testament. The Greek word, Phileo, describes brotherly love, which is why Philadelphia means “the city of brotherly love.” This kind of love is good, but it is not the highest form of love. The Greek word, Agape, is the love of God, and it is the word used in 1 John 4:18.
Children first learn Phileo love from their parents, because this is all they are capable of manifesting while they are yet immature. Phileo love is a judicial love. Parents spend much of their time judging and refereeing disputes between their children in order to teach them Phileo love. If they are disobedient, they are subject to correction, which always instills in them a certain amount of fear. This is why Phileo is not perfect love. Phileo still contains the fear factor.
Prov. 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Fear in moderation is necessary in discipline, for children must learn to respect the rights of others. But ultimately, fear must be replaced by love, or it will be detrimental to future relationships. If they remain in the Phileo level for the rest of their lives, they may be bound in the subconscious mind by fears. They may become legalistic, demanding their rights and jealously guarding against all infringement of those rights. When such people formulate religions or their interpretations of religious thought, they tend to make vengeance a virtue and ultimately a religious duty. This has been most evident in recent years in the tit-for-tat vengeance cycle between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
This judicial love in Phileo is the basis of the Old Covenant, where the law is applied to teach men the basic difference between right and wrong and where the biblical judges must decide disputes and issue judgments to correct injustices among neighbors. It is the love of the immature.
A mature love is Agape. This is the kind of love taught by the New Covenant. It goes beyond the judicial, but also presumes a knowledge of Phileo love. It is necessary to know the basic standards of right and wrong to lay the proper foundations for Agape love. As children begin to mature, they learn to go beyond demanding their rights. They begin to show kindness, grace, and forgiveness toward those who do not show them Phileo love, even as Jesus showed kindness, grace, and forgiveness as He was nailed to the Cross.
Even as Phileo love is conditional, so also is Agape unconditional love.
Phileo love is the imperfect love of the immature. Agape is the perfect love of the mature. But one cannot really manifest Agape love without having first learned Phileo love, for it is impossible to claim to love unconditionally while perpetrating injustice. In both Phileo and Agape love, the divine law is relevant, but it is applied differently on each level. In Phileo love, a man demands his lawful rights; in Agape a man is willing to give up his lawful rights for a higher purpose. But without the law, there would be no rights to grasp or to release.
Hence, a man made perfect in Phileo love will never do injustice to another person, yet he will also not allow any man to do him injustice. In contrast, a man made perfect in Agape love will never do injustice to another person, but he is willing, if necessary for the good of others, to give up his own lawful rights for the sake of those who are yet immature.
And so the apostle Paul tells us in Rom. 5:7, 8,
7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Paul goes on to define “us” as God’s “enemies.” He died for us while we were yet His enemies.
It is easy to die for a good man. All religions advocate this. Many Muslims would die for Mohammed. Many Jews would die for Moses. Christians would die for Jesus. But how many of us would die for an enemy? This is the love of God as defined by the New Covenant. Such love is not a virtue in either Islam or in Judaism, for they can have no such example to follow as we do. Such love was not manifested in either Moses or Mohammed, although one might argue that Moses offered to give up his life for the sinful nation (Ex. 32:32). In his intercession on the mount, he was a type of Christ (Heb. 7:25), but God did not require Moses to die for the people.
New Covenant Decision-Making
Who makes the decisions in the family? This is one of the primary marks that distinguish an Old Covenant marriage from a New Covenant marriage. Does a man consult his wife (or vice versa) before making decisions that affect the other? Does her opinion really matter, or is she consulted only to give her the illusion of self-worth?
Most marriages do not manifest a pure form of either Hagar or Sarah but are various mixtures of the two. While there are some husbands who never consult their wives, even in household decisions, most husbands today consult their wives on at least some matters before coming to a decision. More relevant today is how any differences of opinion are resolved. If the two are not in agreement, whose opinion will prevail?
We have already shown that when God separated Eve from Adam, He gave the woman the El Shaddai portion of His image. To the man He gave the Yahweh portion of His image. Since each perfectly reflected a portion of the divine nature, there was at first no need for one to be in authority over the other.
It would be foolish to ask if Yahweh would ever disagree with and overrule the will of El Shaddai. God is not double-minded. God may have more than one side to His personality, but the two halves of His brain are always in perfect unity in any decision that He makes. The ideal marriage on earth is the same, except that God’s male and female personalities reside in two persons, rather than in one.
The goal of marriage is unity. The path to unity is love. Godly unity does not mean that the wife must always agree and do what her husband tells her to do—as we might expect from a bondwoman who is content with that station in life. True unity cannot be achieved by suppressing all dissenting opinions. True unity is being of one mind and heart. In a biblical context, true unity is when both husband and wife hear God’s voice, and that voice tells them the same thing—or perhaps different things that harmonize and result in the same conclusion.
True unity has more to do with being in agreement than having one person in submission to the other. And being in agreement cannot be achieved apart from both parties hearing from God—otherwise, they could BOTH be wrong, yet be in agreement in their error.
If God speaks a Word to the husband that affects the family, he ought to communicate this to his wife so that she may ask God for herself. If she receives a confirmation of the Word, then they know that they have heard from both Yahweh and El Shaddai. With such a double witness, they may then proceed to act upon that Word.
But suppose God were to speak to the husband, telling him to move the family to another country. If he immediately “obeyed” the Word and told the wife to start packing, he would be treating her as a bondwoman, rather than as a freewoman. He may protest, saying, “God told me to move the family,” but God never intended that he should obey in that manner. If he does, his marriage is still based upon the Old Covenant. He is Abram (at best), and she is Hagar.
Here is an illustration of how an Old Covenant relationship works. Take note that it is a straight line—a line of command:
In the Old Covenant marriage relationship, God might tell Abram to move from Hebron to Jerusalem. Abram would then tell Hagar, “Hagar, I received the Word of the Lord to move to Jerusalem. Start packing our belongings. We leave tomorrow.” She would then begin to pack and get ready to move to Jerusalem. At no time was she consulted, for she was only a slave.
Here is an illustration of how the New Covenant relationship works:
In the New Covenant marriage relationship, God might tell Abraham to move from Hebron to Jerusalem. Abraham would then tell Sarah, “Sarah, I believe I received the Word of the Lord to move to Jerusalem. Would you please pray about it and see if God [El Shaddai] tells you the same thing?” If she returns, saying, “Yes, God told me the same thing,” then they would move. However, if Sarah returned and told him, “God said your imagination is playing tricks on you,” then they would each have to pray further until they came to the truth of the matter and came into unity. If Abraham were to overrule his wife, then he would be reducing her to the status of Hagar and would no longer be manifesting a New Covenant relationship.
So long as both parties are in agreement, there is no problem—nor is their relationship tested to see if it is Hagar or Sarah. Ideally, both husband and wife would hear the same thing—even if the revelation comes forth in different language. For example, God may tell Abraham to move to Jerusalem for the purpose of some particular ministry. But God may say nothing to Sarah about ministry, but would instead assure her of His protection and that it would not disrupt the family or household. The language is different, because Yahweh and El Shaddai address the specific needs of husband and wife. But the bottom line is that they are moving to Jerusalem.
As long as they are in unity—or as long as they both seek God until they come into agreement—there is never an occasion where one would overrule the other. Nor is there any reason why they would have to compromise, saying, “I’ll let you have your way this time, but next time we will do it my way!” Such compromises merely allow them to each play the part of Hagar at different times. While this may be preferable to having just one of them play Hagar’s role all the time, it is not reflective of the heart and mind of God.
The heart of God is that both husband and wife would hear God perfectly, for this makes authority irrelevant. That is, no one would have to overrule the other or “pull rank.” The needs of both would be fully addressed. The full mind of God would be revealed in all matters. This is the heart and soul of a New Covenant marriage. This is what God had in mind at the beginning, when He said they would become “one flesh.”
The Essential Difference
The essential difference between Hagar and Sarah is this: When one spouse is required to submit one hundred percent, while the other has no requirement at all to submit—this is absolute bondage and would be a pure Old Covenant marriage. In such cases, a woman is a mere “sack of excrement,” as the one Jewish rabbi said in the Talmud. It is also possible that a wife might treat her husband as a sack of excrement. Either way, the attitude is wrong and unchristian.
On the other hand, when both spouses are required (equally) to give one hundred percent, this is a pure New Covenant marriage.
Most marriages lie somewhere between these two absolutes. Many remain in a roughly 50/50 relationship and can only go beyond this as they learn to trust the other with their lives. A 50/50 relationship is concerned with fairness and justice, rather than unity. It is a relationship that is based upon compromise, which is necessary when husband and wife are not in unity. This willingness to compromise shows love, but it is phileo love, not agape love. It is the kind of love that is seen between brothers and sisters competing for their own rights but learning that they have equal rights.
This imperfect love is shown in John 21:15-17, when Jesus asked Peter a very important question.
Jesus: “Peter, do you agape me?”
Peter: “Lord, you know that I phileo you.”
Jesus: “Feed my lambs. . . . Peter, do you agape me?”
Peter: “Yes, Lord, you know that I phileo you.”
Peter still did not understand what Jesus was asking. Peter’s love was still imperfect, for he was only capable at that time to manifest phileo love toward Jesus, even though they had walked together for over three years. So then Jesus lowers the standard of love to the level that Peter could achieve. He asks, “Peter, do you phileo me?”
Peter was grieved that Jesus had questioned him three times, but he still did not comprehend the difference between phileo and agape. Yet he answered the third time, “Yes, Lord, you know that I phileo you.” Only later after the day of Pentecost would Peter understand the essential difference.
Trust is the factor that allows each to give one hundred percent, knowing that love compels the other to act responsibly in return. With trust like this, each is willing to do only what his/her spouse discerns to be the will of God.
It is a matter of TRUST. But it takes time and experience to develop trust. This is how a marriage relationship develops and deepens over a period of time. But it will not work if either spouse believes that the other has difficulty hearing from God (or cannot hear from God at all). It will not work if either spouse believes that the other is acting selfishly and prefers his/her own will to God’s will.
No one wants to trust his or her life to a despot, because that is the moral equivalent of selling one’s self into slavery. And yet that is often how marriage has been portrayed in the Church. Christian marriage counseling generally would counsel the wife to submit to her husband (i.e., make herself his servant), even as the Church submits to the rule of Christ. They also counsel the husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. While such counsel is valid, it is nearly always misunderstood, and hence, it is not practiced properly.
From Submission to Ruling with Christ
The Church does indeed need to submit to Christ as Hagar to Abram. But Christ is not content to remain in such an immature relationship with His Bride. The Bride is called to grow spiritually until she comes fully into perfection and maturity, so that she can take her place as a Sarah, rather than remain forever as a Hagar. One can only learn to rule by learning to be ruled. Submission, then, is the path to the authority of a godly ruler. The law brings us to Christ (Gal. 3:24). Those who do not learn to submit to the divine law will not qualify to rule over ten cities, five, or even one city (Luke 19:17-26). Jesus said that those who put away His law will be the least in the Kingdom (Matt. 5:19). They are citizens by faith in Christ, but rulers only by learning obedience by submitting to His authority and law.
The Bible says that we, as the Bride of Christ, will “rule and reign with Christ” (Rev. 20:6). In other words, the Bride of Christ (Sarah) has real authority. She does not simply let her Husband exercise the authority. She is, in fact, growing spiritually in order to learn how to exercise authority in the earth, so she can do the same. Yet it can only work properly if she is in full unity with Him. And unity is the goal of this marriage.
But, you say, she will never exercise authority over her Husband, Jesus Christ. That is true, but only because their unity has made authority over each other irrelevant. The fact is, once they have grown into full maturity and have come into full unity, there is no need for either one to tell the other what to do, for each will already know by nature precisely what to do—and how to do it even as the other would have done it. This situation is reflected in the New Covenant description in Heb. 8:11,
11 And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.
When we all know Him from the least to the greatest, and when all are in perfect unity with Him, then it can be properly said that the law has been fulfilled. The law will then cease to exist in its external form as a set of commandments. The law itself—which reflects the nature of God and defines His will—is being eaten, assimilated, and absorbed into our beings. As it becomes internalized, we begin to think and act like Jesus, who never once violated the law and did only what His Father did.
When all mankind has arrived at that place, then the law (as a set of external commandments) will pass away, for its external form will no longer be needed. Unity will have replaced authority and its commands. Everyone’s life will reflect perfectly every word in the law and, indeed, the entire Word of God, spoken and written.
Meanwhile, we are called to enjoy such a relationship with Christ and to be examples to the rest of the world. As we move from the Pentecostal Age into the Age of Tabernacles, the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6) and the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19) will bring a greater opportunity for the world to see by example how the New Covenant relationship works. Such overcomers, however, will yet have to exercise authority over the rest of mankind, because they too must learn obedience in a Hagar relationship with God until they learn to trust Him fully and come into full unity with Him. Hence, it will be necessary for the law to go forth from Zion (Is. 2:3), when the overcomers “rule and reign” with Christ for a thousand years (Rev. 20:6).
The purpose of the overcomers’ authority in the earth is to teach the nations by example what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ. It will be the greatest evangelistic work of all time. During that thousand-year reign of King Jesus, His “Sarah” Bride will teach all nations of His ways (Isaiah 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-5). They will learn not merely by hearing words, but by observation—seeing real people who have come into the place of divine character. No longer will men have just one Man to observe, such as occurred when Jesus walked the earth two thousand years ago. At the manifestation of the sons of God, every nation will have its share of overcomers to observe in order to know the love of God and the mind of Christ.
The Hagar relationship as a bondwoman is not evil, but neither is it the final goal. Its purpose is good, for it teaches us to submit to the leading of the Spirit while we are yet immature in our spiritual growth. It teaches us obedience while we are yet in a semi-rebellious carnal state. The commandments of God provide us with a standard of right and wrong while we are yet learning the difference. It is, therefore, a transitional relationship with God that is good, but not perfect.
And so, when Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22) and for slaves to submit to their masters (Eph. 6:5), he is not giving us bad or uninspired advice. We cannot and should not invalidate the Scriptures. However, we should understand that this is a temporary situation, not the ultimate goal either in a future life or in the present one.
At least as important is the requirement of husbands to love their wives (Eph. 5:25) in the same way that Christ loved the Church. This puts a greater responsibility upon the husband than it does upon the wife, for Christ’s agape-love was unconditional and never oppressive. This level of love requires a husband to understand his wife and her needs, to seek her welfare and happiness, and above all never to insist upon his own rights.
Nowhere is there a biblical command for a husband to subject his wife to himself. Submission is something a wife does primarily as a result of the trust she feels toward her husband. If she does not or cannot trust him, she will not be able to submit to him for any great length of time. Trust is something that the husband earns when his wife sees his character, his love toward her, and his relationship with God. Trust cannot be forced upon or demanded from the wife.
Many men (like Peter in his early years) do not know the real meaning of love and therefore cannot understand why their wives do not fully trust them. Men often think that their prime duty is to protect their families; and while that is a good thing, this is not the meaning of love. Men often think that their prime duty is to provide food and home for their families. While this is a good thing, this is not the meaning of love either. Most women would gladly trade food and home for such things as kindness, consideration, humility, gentleness, and other things that describe genuine love. These are the things that make a woman happy and fulfilled in life. These are the things that set her apart from a mere servant or slave. If all men knew this simple secret, and learned how to apply it, the entire world would be transformed.
Few women enter marriage with the goal of being a bondwoman. Only those whose religions have convinced them of the virtues of slavery—and who therefore have no higher expectations—can be relatively content in such a marriage. And yet once their eyes are opened to the New Covenant and its application to marriage, they can no longer be content as a mere Hagar.
We do not mean to sow seeds of discontent, but in the interest of imparting a greater understanding of the New Covenant, we must take this risk.
Becoming One Flesh
God Himself established the Hagar relationship in the garden only after Eve was the first to eat of the forbidden fruit in the garden. Only then was the husband’s authority established over her. Initially, the dominion mandate in Gen. 1:28 was to “them,” not to “him,” for “God blessed them; and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule. . .” Both were called to rule.
After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God told Eve in Gen. 3:16, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And yet, God had already established the goal of marriage clearly in Gen. 2:24—“they shall be one flesh.” That is, they shall be in full unity of body, mind, and spirit to rule together in full unity.
A husband’s authority over his wife was not the original family order. It was instituted later as the result of sin—but was not so from the beginning.
As we said earlier, unity is the end and goal of authority. When unity is achieved, no one will have to tell the other what to do, for all will know what to do. No one will have to give orders, for all will know what to do and will do it without any commandment. This is the New Covenant relationship.
Most marriages are somewhere between pure Hagar and pure Sarah. Many are stuck and do not know how to continue, because they do not really understand the problem from a biblical perspective. It is my hope, of course, that others will be enlightened to know the things that God has shown us in our own marriage relationship and in the Scriptures. We want everyone to have as good a marriage relationship as we do.
Gen. 2:24 says,
23 And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
This verse is often taken as a reference to physical union in a sexual sense, but it is much more than that. The Hebrew word for man used here is ish. The Hebrew word for woman is ishah, which means “what comes from ish (man).” It is a picture of the unity between male and female and the necessity of unity. Yet becoming “one flesh” does not mean that they physically become a single person. Unity does not mean that one loses his or her being or personality or will. Yet it means that the lost rib is being brought back to the side of the man. To be “one flesh” really means to become one spirit. When the man’s spirit and the woman’s spirit are both replaced by the same Holy Spirit, then they are truly one.
It means that they see eye to eye on all things, because both of them know the will of God and are in perfect agreement. It is two eyes seeing as one and focused together with perfect vision. Jesus said in Matt. 6:22, “if your eye be single [haplous, “folded together”], your whole body will be full of light.” Both eyes must be able to focus in order to see a single object clearly. In this we see the difference between Leah and Rachel. Leah was cross-eyed; Rachel was not. Leah’s eye condition thus prophesied of her marriage relationship with Jacob in that their eyes were not “single” (not in focus). Because Leah was not loved by Jacob, she did not enjoy the type of love relationship that Rachel had with Jacob.
Paul refers to Genesis 2:24 in 1 Cor. 6:16, 17,
16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, The two will become one flesh. 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
In other words, the marriage principle of “one flesh” applies also to our relationship with Christ. Insofar as we are part of the Bride of Christ, we are joined with Him in a New Covenant relationship. We are, then, “one spirit with Him.” It does not mean that we have given up our individuality, but that we are His lost rib that has been returned to Him. This does not mean that we give up our individuality to become part of His body; yet we become part of His body by being one spirit with Him. It is not a matter of being physically joined with Him; it is a matter of returning to our rightful place in Christ, for He is missing a “rib” until we are rejoined to Him.
The Authority of Husband and Wife
A husband’s authority in the area of decision-making is only relevant in an Old Covenant marriage—and even then, only when there is disagreement. Abram exercises his authority and tells Hagar what to do, and she does it like a good bondwoman. But in a New Covenant relationship, where a husband and wife begin to truly move in unity, each hearing the Word of the Lord, they begin to move back to God’s original intent for marriage that was established before sin came into being. When people begin to move fully into Agape love, the need for authority diminishes and finally disappears altogether. When they move in unity, each wanting only to know the will of God, there is no more occasion for a husband to overrule his wife (or vice versa) in an exercise of authority.
But if, for some reason, a husband might feel it necessary to overrule his wife’s discernment (or vice versa), it would mean that they had reverted to an Old Covenant relationship. It would be a setback, a failure on the part of at least one of the spouses. In such a case, at least one of them may have to simply submit to the will (decision) of the other—even without being in agreement. Yet this is evidence of a Hagar relationship, and no one ought to be content to remain there for very long.
The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 7:4,
4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Much of Christian teaching is fond of quoting the first half of this verse, while ignoring the last half. They seem willing to affirm a man’s authority over his wife, but not the other way around. The fact is, a husband and wife do not own themselves, but they own each other. They have equal authority over the other spouse. This is the principle by which the apostle Paul tells husbands and wives not to defraud each other of sexual relations (7:3); however, it is a general principle of the New Covenant relationship.
Double Witness and Timing
The double witness not only establishes all truth, but also the timing of its fulfillment. We see this best illustrated in Gen. 41:32, where Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s two dreams,
32 Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined [established by two witnesses] by God, and God will quickly bring it about [timing].
Pharaoh had two dreams, the first dealing with cows and the second dealing with sheaves of grain. Joseph had a revelation of the double witness law and told Pharaoh that the two dreams not only “established” the truth, but also determined its timing. There are many times when one spouse will have a discernment or revelation from God, but the other will not receive anything for a time. It might be, of course, that the revelation itself was faulty, or came from the person’s soul realm, rather than by the Spirit. In such cases, the spouse may get a “no” from the Lord, or perhaps may simply receive nothing at all—no double witness.
A second possibility is that God has chosen to give the double witness at a later time in order to establish the timing of its fulfillment. For example, if God tells Abraham to move to Jerusalem, but then says nothing to Sarah, it may be that they are supposed to move in another year or in ten years. In such a case God may give Sarah the word at the time appointed for them to move. When both are in agreement, then the time is near for the move. The double witness itself may in this way tell them when to move to Jerusalem.
God will often do this in order to test the relationship. It is common for a husband to force the issue on the grounds that he “knows” that he heard from God—even if she has heard nothing. And so on that basis, he may put his wife into the position of a Hagar once again, telling her to get ready to move. Such a husband needs to learn patience, even as Abraham had to learn patience. He also needs to learn that a Word from heaven is not established as a Word on earth until it has been properly witnessed by the one called to bear witness. Even if an angel from heaven were to give Abraham such a revelation, it would still require a double witness.
That is God’s lawful order.
Badgering the Witness
A New Covenant relationship breaks down any time one spouse finds it necessary to dictate the will of God to the other. It is not possible to have a New Covenant relationship unless both spouses are able to hear God’s voice for themselves and are free to hear a contradictory answer without fear of retaliation.
In other words, a husband cannot intimidate his wife into bearing witness to his revelation. If he does so, he is “badgering the witness” (as they say in a court room). She must know in her heart that he wants only to know the Word of God and has no desire simply to “be right.” If he has an idol in the heart that gives him the need to be validated, then he needs to address that issue before his marriage can truly be called New Covenant.
I recall once when a prophet told me about a Word he had received from the Lord. He asked me to pray for a double witness. I recall being under stress and could not hear the Lord in that matter. Why? Because I knew from past observation that the prophet tended to punish anyone who did not validate his Word. Of course, he did not physically beat them, but simply threatened them with God’s disapproval or judgment. It was little more than self-righteous coercion.
For example, he might receive a Word that he was to go to a particular place to do some sort of prophetic work or make some prophetic utterance or declaration. But in asking for a double witness, he might say, “The Lord told me that if I do not go, then ten thousand people will die in some kind of disaster. So I want you to pray and get a double witness that would allow me to go.”
In such a case, he would be badgering the witness, putting pressure upon the second witness to get the same Word—otherwise, ten thousand people would die, and he (the second witness) would be responsible for their deaths. The second witness is thus not really free to hear God for himself. The prophet has already assumed that the Word is established, even before the second witness has heard from God. He has invoked the spirit of fear into the situation in order to ensure that his Word is validated.
I took note that this is often normal behavior for Church leaders of all kinds—and I learned what NOT to do.
The same type of behavior can be done within a family. It is said that the prime duty of a husband is to relieve his wife’s fears—not to manipulate her by her fears. Fear and guilt are the two main things that carnal men use to manipulate other people.
My husband and I came into a New Covenant relationship in 1992 (after 21 years of marriage). Until that time, though we had a very good relationship, it was still some mixture of Sarah and Hagar. He always consulted me about family decisions, but in the end I was content to follow the Word that he heard from God, for I did not believe that I had the same ability to hear from God. When he needed a double witness, he had to go outside the family to obtain it. But as time passed, he became more and more uncomfortable with that arrangement. When he would consult others for a witness, I felt left out and deep inside I didn’t agree with his decisions. I was no longer content with our marriage arrangement.
I knew that the natural order was for me to be his double witness. But I did not think I could hear God’s voice, and so he did not think I could either. Actually, we were both wrong, for I could indeed hear God. We simply did not understand the feminine intuitive language in which God was speaking to me.
Seeking God together as equal partners has transformed our marriage. Not only are we confident in knowing God’s will for our lives, we also have a unity with each other that can’t be broken.
In 1992 we finally came to the point where God made it very clear that He had been speaking to her all along and that we simply had not recognized His voice. After that, one of the first things God taught me was never to manipulate her to extract the desired double witness. She was not at all self-assertive and did not yet have the confidence that can come only by experience and by a husband’s affirmation and encouragement. I had to work hard to assure her that her discernment was not only desired, but that if she received a contradictory word, I would not think less of her or discard her discernment as “wrong.” It was not long before she really came to know that I had no need to be “right,” but that I only wanted the Word of the Lord—and that I could only know that Word after her double witness “established” it.
In the next few years I saw her transformed from Hagar into Sarah. I saw her delight and marvel at the freedom she had to hear God for herself without fear of disapproval. No longer was she a mere bondservant—although in many ways she had been happy playing that role for 21 years, for she had been taught from early childhood to be submissive to her husband. I watched her confidence level grow as she developed a sense of great worth and value to me. I watched her level of spiritual maturity develop rapidly, and as she grew, she was able to fulfill her calling as a New Covenant wife.
When a woman feels valuable, she develops a sense of self-worth, or value. She finds meaning in life that far exceeds the servant’s role of Hagar. My wife now tells me periodically that she is the happiest woman in the world. That makes me the happiest man, for I feel that I have succeeded in fulfilling my responsibility toward her. We serve each other, each meeting the other’s needs. A wife needs to know that she is unique to her husband, that she fulfills a unique role that can be filled by no other person on earth.
A very important principle of the double witness is that not just anyone qualifies as a double witness. There are some general matters, of course, where anyone may qualify as a second witness. But particularly in family matters, the husband and wife are the primary ones called to be each other’s witnesses. Normally, one should not involve an outside witness on matters that concern the family, especially if this is done to bypass the witness of one spouse. Remember that God separated man and woman specifically in order to provide a double witness in family matters. Being such a witness is a calling, and with it comes a level of authority in this area.
Being Unequally Yoked Together
God will not be unequally yoked.
The King James Version of 2 Cor. 6:14 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” This verse is based upon the law in Deut. 22:10, “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.”
The law was speaking directly about farming, but Paul applies the principle to not having fellowship with idolatrous temples, for we are the temple of God. Yet the principle also applies to marriage, for marriage is fellowship on a personal level between a man and a woman. An ox is larger, stronger, and taller than an ass. The law was given partly as a protection for the ox, so that he would not have to make up for the weaker ass. Yet it was also given to protect the ass from being given too great a burden (calling) that it could not possibly fulfill.
Asses and oxen both represent servants in the Bible. The ox is a greater and more valuable servant, but the lowly asses are also good. In their symbolism, however, there was another major difference between them. The ox is a clean creature; the ass is unclean. The ox was normally quite obedient, while the ass had a reputation for being stubborn and “stiff-necked,” as the Bible often puts it. The ox was often used as a sacrificial animal, and in that capacity it represented Christ, who fulfilled all of the sacrifices. The ass, however, was never used as a sacrifice. In fact, when the firstborn of an ass was born, it could not be given to God directly. A lamb had to be given in its place (Ex. 13:13).
In our book, The Wheat and Asses of Pentecost, we show how wheat and asses are the two primary symbols of Pentecost in the Bible (and also in the “signs of the times” that we see today). In that context, the ox represents not only Christ Himself, but those of the Feast of Tabernacles.
God always follows His own law. In the marriage of Christ and the Church, God will not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. That is, He will not “marry” an unbelieving wife. But more than that, Christ (the Ox) will not be yoked together with the asses of Pentecost either—at least not in the final analysis. Asses are good and even useful, but they are not oxen.
This is also why there will be more than one resurrection, as we explained in other writings. Not all believers today are “oxen.” Many are yet “asses,” and they need more time to learn how to be oxen. And so, those of the first resurrection will be married to Christ before the rest of the believers. He will not be unequally yoked, for the law is the expression of His will. Therefore, it is a prophecy of what He will do.
But one might object, saying that Abraham was married to Hagar. Was this not an unequal yoke? The answer is in the fact that AbraHAM did not marry Hagar. ABRAM married Hagar. The name change showed a development in his character from ass to ox. Hence, when Abram married Hagar, it was (prophetically speaking) two asses plowing together. Abram and Hagar were donkeys in training for the first thirteen years of their marriage. Then when Abram was 99 years old, he reached the place where he became an ox, spiritually speaking. Gen. 17:5 says that God then gave him a new name, AbraHAM. This new relationship with God, reflected in his name change, made him eligible to bring forth Isaac, the true promised heir, a type of manifested son. At that point, Abraham and Hagar were unequally yoked, and it was not long before she and her son, Ishmael, were cast out.
Hagar no doubt had a genuine relationship with Christ, for in Gen. 16:11, 12 we read,
11 The angel of the Lord said to her [Hagar] further, Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son, and you shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has given heed to your affliction. 12 And he will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers.
Hagar could never bring forth the promised seed that would be used to bring righteousness and the Kingdom of God into the earth. That was reserved for Sarah, who gave birth to Isaac. It is not that Ishmael was a bad man, for no doubt he, too, had a relationship with Christ. His father would certainly have taught him the ways of God. Yet he was destined to be a type and shadow of Pentecost, which can never bring forth the Kingdom of God, for that calling is reserved for the Feast of Tabernacles. Ishmael was half-Egyptian, because his mother was Egyptian. It is not that Egyptians are bad either, but Egypt represented the world system that brings men into bondage. The Feast of Pentecost was a leavened feast (Lev. 23:17), even as Ishmael was “leavened” with Egypt. In such a condition, people have the faith of Abraham, but they also tend to bring men into the bondage of Egypt. Such is the condition of the denominational system of religion that tends to enslave men to their denomination in the guise of submitting to Jesus Christ.
Thus, we see that God has two wives also, even as Abraham did. In the Old Testament phase, Hagar was the old Jerusalem, as Paul tells us in Gal. 4:25. In the New Testament we find that the Church was not yet ready to move into the Feast of Tabernacles, and so they remained in a Pentecostal (leavened) level of relationship with God. This leaven brought about the spiritual degeneration that became manifested in later centuries in the Church.
Even as Hagar was the first to bring forth her son, so also did God give Pentecost the first opportunity to bring forth the Kingdom of God in the past 2,000 years. But no amount of time is enough for this New Testament Ishmael to manifest the glory of God. History has proven that the Church soon attempted to establish the Kingdom of God by violent means. They executed heretics and called for crusades against the Muslims. In this way, the Church was reduced to the same violent methods as was prophesied about Ishmael in Gen. 16:12, “his hand will be against everyone.”
The Jews and Israelites of the Old Testament employed violent methods as well in taking the Kingdom (Promised Land). One may argue that God commanded them to do so, but this was only because they had earlier rejected the spiritual sword offered to them at Mount Sinai on that first day of Pentecost. (See chapter two of our book, The Laws of Spiritual Warfare.)
Violence is the established method for Ishmael in all its manifestations, but not for an Isaac company that is empowered by the Feast of Tabernacles.
God has been married to Hagar, the bondwoman, for the past 2,000 years. But all she could produce was another Ishmael. That is why the Kingdom of God could not be fully manifested in the earth in the Church of the Pentecostal Age. However, the Scripture says that ultimately Hagar must be cast out (Gal. 4:30) in order to allow Sarah (the New Jerusalem) and her son (the Isaac company) to manifest the presence of Christ in the earth.
In essence, then, we see that God has two wives. The bondwoman is the Pentecostal Church of the past 2,000 years. The freewoman is the Tabernacles Church (the overcomers, the sons of God) that has waited in the background until the Tabernacles Age should come. Paul awaited this day, and he often urged the Church to be children of the freewoman, rather than of the bondwoman. The primary manifestation of the bondwoman in his day, of course, was Judaism, and so he wrote many letters, particularly Galatians, urging the Church to resist the tendency toward Judaism.
In fact, that tendency has again surfaced in the past century. Many Christian teachers have focused once again on the Old Jerusalem, making it the center of the Kingdom of God in the age to come. Many Christians go to the Old Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, thinking that this is where the glory will come. They do not realize that the glory departed from that place long ago (Jer. 7:1-16; Ez. 11:23). The prophet said that God would forsake Jerusalem like He did Shiloh some centuries earlier. Shiloh was where the glory of God first rested before the glory departed. That was the time Ichabod was born, whose name means “The glory is departed from Israel.” (See 1 Sam. 4:21.) For a full study of this, see chapter four of The Struggle for the Birthright.
So let us be children of the freewoman, that we might enjoy a better relationship with God.
The Old Covenant is Conditional
When Israel stood before God at the foot of Mount Sinai, they took a marriage vow as a Hagar bride, saying, “All that the Lord has spoken, we will do” (Ex. 19:8). The fact that this was a marriage vow is shown in the later prophets, who tell us that God was married to Israel. Jer. 3:14 says in the King James Version,
14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married to you. . .
Some have objected to this idea that God was married to Israel, claiming that the Hebrew term for “married” is baal, which means either “marry” or “rule.” (See Strong’s Concordance #1166.) They say that it in this case it ought to be translated as the NASB says,
14 Return, O faithless sons, declares the Lord; for I am a master to you.
First of all, the context of this passage in verse 8 shows that God was giving Israel a bill of divorce. One cannot divorce a mere servant or slave. Only a lawfully-married wife can receive a bill of divorce (Deut. 24:1-4). Hence, the context shows that the KJV is the best rendering. And yet, both are correct, because, as we have already shown, an Old Covenant marriage was a marriage to a bondwoman. In those days a husband was, in essence, a “master” to his wife.
Hosea 2:2, 7 also make mention of this marriage relationship—again, in the context of God divorcing Israel. Later in that chapter, the prophet speaks of God betrothing Israel again (2:20).
Thus, we can only conclude that God had married Israel and that the Old Covenant was a marriage covenant.
Looking more closely at the nature of this marriage covenant, we see that it was conditional upon obedience. This is unlike the New Covenant that is unconditional. The fact that God could divorce Israel (Jer. 3:8) without violating His own law proves the fact that the Old Covenant was conditional. It also shows us that divorce is not a sin, as many have been taught. God is not a sinner, yet He divorced Israel. Jer. 3:8 says,
8 And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.
When two people are married and they each vow to do something, it is a conditional covenant. In Exodus 19, Israel vowed to be obedient. In Lev. 26:1-13 and Deut. 28:1-14 God vowed that if she were obedient, He would bless her. If not, He would cast her out of His house. But before He sent Israel out of His house (Canaan), He had to give her a bill of divorce, as the law required (Deut. 24:1).
The law also makes it clear that a divorce really is a divorce—not a mere separation, as many have been taught. Deut. 24:2 says clearly,
2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.
A bill of divorce was required, because it was the woman’s evidence that she was no longer married to that husband. This was her written evidence that would allow her to remarry, if she found another man to marry. The only marital prohibition given in the law is that once she has remarried someone else, her former husband cannot claim her as his wife, nor can she decide to return to her former husband. (See The Bible Says: Divorce and Remarriage is NOT Adultery.)
In the divine plan, God married Israel through the conditional Old Covenant. He did not marry her unconditionally, because that would have prevented Him from divorcing her when she committed adultery. It was in His plan to divorce her so that He could establish a New Covenant, a “better covenant” (Heb. 8:6). If the Old Covenant had been unconditional, it could never have come to an end, and the New Covenant could never have replaced it.
It was part of the divine plan that the imperfect would precede the perfect. It was part of the divine plan that the Old Covenant would be given the first opportunity to succeed. It was part of the divine plan that man would be given the first opportunity to be blessed (saved) by their obedience (works).
It was part of the divine plan that Hagar would bring forth Ishmael first. He was “born after the flesh,” in that he was born by natural means. This was in contrast to Isaac, who was born by a miracle when Sarah was 90 years old. He was born “by promise” (Gal. 4:23).
Like Hagar, the Old Jerusalem was given the first opportunity to bring forth the promise of the Kingdom, but in rejecting the Messiah, they failed. It was left, then, to Sarah (the New Jerusalem) to bring forth the inheritors of the promise.
The Old Covenant in Ex. 19:5 said, “IF you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant . . . .” It was conditional and therefore ultimately temporary.
The New Covenant is unconditional as stated in Jer. 31:31-34 and repeated in Heb. 8:8-12. The New Covenant has no “if” clauses in it, but is a one-sided covenant that binds God alone to bring us into a full knowledge of Himself. Hence, the New Covenant can come to an end only if God fails in His purpose. But God is not a failure. So we know that the New Covenant marriage between Christ and His Bride (Matt. 22:2; Luke 12:36) will not end in failure, for it is based upon “a better covenant, which has been enacted upon better promises” (Heb. 8:6).
This is the kind of ideal marriage that God envisioned and planned from the beginning. Jesus spoke of this when the Pharisees came to test him with the question in Matt. 19:3, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?”
Jesus responded by showing God’s intention from the beginning in verses 4-6,
4 And He answered and said, Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh? 6 Consequently, they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.
Jesus was referring to the original intent of God—not to the law regulating an Old Covenant marriage that is found in Deut. 24:1-4. Jesus was referring to the unconditional, perfect type of marriage that we have shown in this book, where husband and wife truly attained unity and agreement. In a New Covenant type of marriage, divorce is unthinkable and irrelevant, because the relationship is perfect.
The Pharisees, of course, knew nothing of the New Covenant. So they questioned Jesus further in verse 7,
7 They said to Him, Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate and divorce her? 8 He said to them, Because of the hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been this way.
Because of the hardness of men’s hearts, the quality of their marriages had not attained the original standard of measure. Most men thought of their wives as their bondservants. Their wives were as Hagar to them. That type of thinking prevails throughout the majority of history to the present day. Because of the hardness of men’s hearts, God established provisions for divorce, in order that men and women would not have to endure bad marriages forever. And, we might add, God Himself knew that He would have to endure a bad marriage with Israel for many years—so this provision for divorce was for His benefit as well. Even as we ourselves ought to be able to end a bad marriage to establish a better one, so also has God done this in order to establish a better marriage covenant with us.
As for Jesus’ next statement in Matt. 19:9, we covered that issue in our other book, The Bible Says: Divorce and Remarriage is NOT Adultery. The verse seems to say (NASB),
9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.
This poor translation has caused much misunderstanding, as if Jesus were overruling the divine law in Deut. 24:1-4. Jesus never violated the divine law nor taught against it (Matt. 5:17-19), for such teaching would have made Him the LEAST in the Kingdom. The question and answer in verses 7 and 9 actually reads this way:
7 Why, then, does Moses direct to give a scroll of divorce and to dismiss her? . . . .
9 Now I am saying to you that whoever should be dismissing his wife (not for prostitution) and should be marrying another, is committing adultery, and he who marries her who has been dismissed, is committing adultery.
The first thing that is obvious is that there are two elements to this question: the “scroll of divorce” and the actual “dismissing his wife.” The law specifies that a man may NOT dismiss his wife without giving her a written divorce (Deut. 24:1). The dismissal, then, is the act of sending the divorced wife out of the house. This law was written originally to counteract the common practice of men dismissing their wives without giving them written proof, a lawful record of their divorce. Such women often had nowhere to go, except into prostitution or (if lucky) they might marry another man.
But to marry another man without being properly (lawfully) divorced is adultery. Hence, Jesus said that if a man merely dismisses his wife and marries another is committing adultery, and the one marrying a dismissed wife (not lawfully divorced) commits adultery as well.
It is for this reason that God divorced Israel by giving her a written scroll of divorce, as we read in Jer. 3:8 (quoted earlier). He divorced Israel in a lawful manner, so that He could later remarry under new terms of a better covenant called the New Covenant. Neither divorce itself nor remarriage after divorce is a sin, for if it were, that would make God a sinner. Let us not accuse God of being a sinner. But this is the subject of our book on divorce and remarriage, so we will not repeat its contents here.
What God has done on a grand scale with the two covenants, He has illustrated in the persons of Hagar and Sarah and their relationship with Abram (or Abraham). The Scriptures show us that God intends to relate to mankind as a husband relates to a bride. We also see from Scripture that God is not content with having a bondwoman as a bride—even though He did establish such a relationship at the beginning under Moses. Yet we saw that marriage fail when the bride committed adultery and continuously refused to repent.
The divine plan finally came together when God committed Himself to do a work in our hearts that would turn us from Hagars to Sarahs. The Pentecostal Age was designed to teach us obedience, even as Paul claimed to be a bondservant of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:1). But God never intended to relate to us as bondservants for ever. Once we have learned obedience, He henceforth no longer calls us servants, but friends who live in harmony and unity.
No one will be called a “friend” of God without first learning obedience, for this is the path toward unity of heart and mind. Once we are in unity, we will be “one flesh” with Jesus Christ. We will do only what we see our Father do. We will say only what we hear our Father say. We will be the executors of His will in the earth until His glory fills the whole earth.
God has joined together husbands and wives in order that we might understand God’s marriage goal and put those principles into practical application. So let us not be content to remain in an Abram-Hagar relationship, but move on into perfection of the New Covenant as illustrated by Abraham and Sarah, the freewoman.