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Old and New Covenant Marriage

The divine law recognizes two kinds of marriage relationships. These are best illustrated by Hagar and Sarah, who were Abraham's wives. The Apostle Paul sets forth these two women in Gal. 4, saying that they represent the two (marriage) covenants. This book is no doubt the first of its kind in that it challenges many traditional views about marriage and sets forth the ideal marriage to be based upon the New Covenant.

Category - Short Book

Chapter 1

God as Male and Female

Men and women are not only different but incomplete in themselves. They need each other in order to know the mind of God. It has been this way ever since God separated Adam and Eve into two individuals. Why did God separate them? Would it not have been more advantageous to leave male and female together and thus have both perspectives in every person? To answer this question is to discover some fundamental principles of marriage as God sees it.

The Names of God

Most people who study the “name” of God focus on the name YHWH (Yahweh) and its various sub-categories, such as Yahweh-Nissi (My Banner) or Yahweh-Rapha (Healer). It is not our purpose here to study each of these revelations of the character of Yahweh, but rather to compare the name of Yahweh with the name of El Shaddai. God spoke to Moses in Exodus 6:2, 3 and explained to him these two names,

2 God spoke further to Moses and said to him, I am the Lord [literally, “Yahweh”]; 3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty [literally, “El Shaddai”], but by My name, Lord [Yahweh] I did not make Myself known to them.

This is a most important revelation of truth. The name of Yahweh was revealed first to Moses many centuries after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Since Moses was the writer of the first five books of the Bible (the Torah), we see that he often inserted the name of Yahweh throughout the book of Genesis. Yet this was not to imply that the name of Yahweh had been revealed in those days, but rather to show that Yahweh was active during that time. The first occurrence of the name of Yahweh appears in Gen. 2:4,

4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God [Yahweh Elohim] made earth and heaven.

Hence, we know that Yahweh, usually reflected as Lord or God in biblical texts, was the Creator of heaven and earth, even though He did not reveal Himself by this name for the first 2,500 years of Adamic history. Then in Gen. 17:1 we find a very unique verse,

1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord [Yahweh] appeared to Abram and said to him, I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]; Walk before Me and be blameless.

Note that Yahweh told Abram, “I am El Shaddai.” This tells us that El Shaddai is also Yahweh. They are the same God, but God uses both names, depending upon the occasion. Let no one think that there are two Gods. There is only one God, but He uses more than one name and has more than one manifestation.

El Shaddai is the name God uses to manifest the divine character of motherhood. The Hebrew word shad means “the breast of a woman or animal,” according to Strong’s Concordance, word #7699. Thus, the name shows the feminine, or mothering, side of God’s character.

The Hebrew word El is usually translated “God,” but more literally, the word refers to one who is in power over others. For example, God told Moses in Ex. 7:1, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh.” This simply means that God had given Moses spiritual authority over Pharaoh. Pharaoh was, in effect, the servant or subject of Moses, though Pharaoh would not have admitted this. In its plural form, Elohim, the word is sometimes used of the judges in Israel. (See Ex. 21:6; 22:8, 9.)

So El, or Elohim, refers to one who is in power, or “almighty.” The name of El Shaddai, then, presents God as the Almighty Breasted One, the God who gave birth to creation and the nourisher and protector of her children, particularly during their youth. Therefore, this is the name by which God was revealed in the early days of man’s history—when man was yet “young.”

After about 2,500 years, however, God called Moses and revealed Himself under a new name, Yahweh. God had “changed hats,” so to speak. He was now revealing Himself as Father, rather than as Mother, because this “child” had grown to the place where he needed the firm hand of discipline from his Father. And so we find that Yahweh is the Lawgiver. Paul tells us in Gal. 3:24,

24 Therefore, the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.

The purpose of the divine law is a tutor to teach us the difference between right and wrong, between sin and righteous behavior. Without discipline, a child will be handicapped in his character and will never learn to respect the rights and property of other people. A parent spends much time acting as a judge to referee the countless disputes between their children. Each time a parent renders a verdict, the child is shown the meaning of the law’s justice, by which that child will know how to treat his fellow man for the rest of his life.

This is the purpose of the law as manifested in a family with children. The purpose of discipline is not to punish, but to teach by correction, so that the child may grow into maturity. Even so, God gave His law in order to bring us to the maturity of Christ. It was given “to lead us to Christ,” not only to come to Jesus as a Person, but to grow up into the image of Christ. After all, the character of Christ defines spiritual maturity. Our level of spiritual maturity is measured by how well we manifest the character of Jesus Christ.

These two names, El Shaddai and Yahweh, reveal to us that God is both our Mother and our Father. One God is both Mother and Father to us. He is complete and self-sufficient, needing no other god, male or female, to meet His needs. One might say that, like man, God has two sides to His brain—male and female. It is one brain in two halves.

God Created Man in His Image

Gen. 1:27 says,

27 And God created man [awdawm] in His own image; in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them.

We see here that when man was created in the image of God, he was both male and female. This is because God is both male and female. Later, in Gen. 2:21-23, we read how God removed the female out of the man and separated them into two individuals,

21 So the Lord God [Yahweh Elohim] caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 And the Lord God [Yahweh Elohim] fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 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.

Once the male and female were separated and placed in distinct bodies, they were dependent upon each other for their completeness. That is the foundational truth behind the institution of marriage. And so the Scripture continues in verse 24,

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.

The concept of becoming “one flesh” is unity in body, soul, and spirit. Many people know how to become one in body. Fewer know how to unite in soul (mind, will, and emotions). Only a small fraction of mankind has experienced unity of spirit. Unity of spirit is not merely agreeing upon a set of religious doctrines. No, that has more to do with unity of the soul (mind), because it deals with various opinions and beliefs in our minds. Unity of spirit is much more subtle and will be explained as we proceed in our study.

The Double Witness Law

When God gave the law to Moses, He revealed a very fundamental precept in Deut. 19:15,

15 A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity, or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.

The Apostle Paul appealed to this law also in 2 Cor. 13:1,

1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Again, Paul writes in 1 Tim. 5:19,

19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.

All truth is legally established on the testimony of at least two witnesses. To be a witness, one must either hear or see something.

When dealing with divine revelation, there are many who claim to have heard the word of the Lord, and they prophesy accordingly. Perhaps they have truly heard from God; perhaps they have not. How does one really know? On an individual level, each person ought to take the prophecy to God and ask Him for confirmation. If the Lord confirms it, then it is truth to that person.

In a family, there are many decisions that are made every day. A child may say, “The Lord told me to go to the store and buy some candy.” Such a revelation may or may not be of the Lord. The parent is the one called to be the double witness. If the parent does not bear witness to the child’s revelation, then the word is not established as truth.

In parental decisions (those that affect the family in general), the husband and wife are called as the two witnesses to establish the truth of revelation. It is this arena that concerns us in our present study.

Determining God’s Will in a Family

God separated male from female in order to provide a double witness in the family unit that would establish all truth as revealed by God. This is one of the most important principles that a husband and wife must know fully in order to establish the kind of marriage that God intended from the beginning.

When man was originally created with male and female in a single individual, the man was in God’s image, having both a left and a right brain. He could discern and hear the voice of both El Shaddai and Yahweh speaking to him. But when God separated Eve from Adam, they became incomplete within themselves. Adam’s male nature was naturally tuned to hear the voice of Yahweh; Eve’s female nature was naturally tuned to hear the voice of El Shaddai. We do not know how pronounced this deficiency was in that first couple, but we know by experience today that most men tend to be more developed in the left side of their brain, while most women tend to be more developed in the right side of their brain.

The left brain gives us a logical and mechanical ability. The right brain gives us an artistic and intuitive ability. Thus, men and women view life from different perspectives and react differently in viewing and solving life’s problems. When confronted with identical situations, men tend to ask for logical reasons to understand it, while women tend to see and understand its emotional impact. In order to understand the entire situation and resolve it fully, one must understand both sides. The difference between men and women is far more than just physical.

One of the purposes in marriage is for each to assist the other to better see the other side of reality. For instance, if God speaks to them and leads them to move to another city, the husband will tend to wonder how this will affect his job and his ability to support his family. The woman will wonder how it will affect the family and the disruptions inherent in moving the “nest.” Even if the woman herself has a career, she cannot help but view such a move more emotionally and intuitively than an average man would view it.

In order to determine the will of God, it requires the viewpoint of both the husband and wife. Each one’s input will help the other to comprehend the full situation with more clarity. Therefore, both husband and wife must have the ability to hear God’s voice, or else they will experience a breakdown in knowing the will of God for their lives. The ability to hear God is a skill that is learned and developed over time, particularly as we learn to overthrow the idols of the heart that distort the voice of God and cause us to misunderstand or misapply it. This is the subject of our book, Hearing God’s Voice.

If both the husband and the wife have developed the ability to hear God’s voice, and if both truly want to know God’s will alone without the disadvantage of heart idolatry to lead them astray, then such a marriage has the potential of always knowing the will of God for the family. Husband and wife then can assume the role of two witnesses, one hearing from Yahweh and the other hearing from El Shaddai. Together they can receive the full divine perspective from both sides of God’s mind and act accordingly.

When the Apostle Peter spoke about marriage relationships, he said to husbands in 1 Peter 3:7,

7 You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Peter says that a man’s wife is a “fellow heir.” It is the same term used in Romans 8:17 of Christ’s bride, who is a joint-heir with Christ. The word has to do with being an inheritor. In the natural, women could inherit land and had property rights (Num. 36:2). Likewise, women have the same right as a man to receive a spiritual inheritance. By this law, the Bride of Christ is a join-heir with Him.

Secondly, Peter admonishes husbands to HONOR their wives. So many married couples dishonor their spouses by a condescending or irritated tone of voice that is intended to put down the other. Often they do this so habitually that they degrade each other in public as well.

Thirdly, Peter says the woman is the “weaker vessel.” This does not mean weak minded or spiritually and morally weaker. It is simply that the average woman is not as physically strong or as tall as the average man. One should not use this phrase to dishonor one’s wife, as if we ought to expect women to be morally or mentally inferior to men—for this interpretation undermines Peter’s command to honor one’s wife.

Finally, husbands ought to honor their wives, because they are joint-heirs with them. In my personal case, I happen to be in the ministry. My wife is a joint-heir with me, and so we will both obtain the same reward in the end. She will not receive a lesser reward for having motherly and household duties as her primary work. In fact, because she is my double witness, she is a partaker in all that I do. Her role and calling as a double witness, then, is really the lawful basis of her right to be a joint-heir.

That is why, if this relationship breaks down, our prayers could be “hindered.” Without a double witness, our prayers ARE hindered, for no one can be absolutely sure of the Father’s will without a double witness.

This is the basis for the ideal marriage. No one has this type of relationship automatically. It usually takes a long time to develop. Unfortunately, most people know little or nothing about it, and without some example to observe, they spend most of their life fumbling in the dark, trying to learn by trial and error. But without instruction, the learning curve is too gradual, and most come to the end of their lives never having attained the satisfaction of developing this relationship.

Those who are unmarried, of course, obviously must find someone else as a prayer partner for confirmation. For those who have no close friends that can hear from God, they must look to the pastor of the local fellowship. If there is none, or if the pastor has little ability to hear God’s voice, then perhaps all one can do is pray that God will provide the double witness Himself in some way. God does often show us signs, if we have eyes to see them. This involves learning divine “sign” language.

The purpose of this book is to lay some foundational teaching and guidance that we believe will be helpful in hearing God’s voice, particularly in a family context.