Deuteronomy 17 on Two or Three Witnesses, Spiritual (Congregational) Leadership

Deuteronomy 17:1–3, Sacrifice. Yeshua, for us, offered himself as a spotless Lamb without blemish. Do you give YHVH your best, or do you give him the crumbs and leftovers? For example, do you give YHVH the best part of the day (the morning) for prayer, Bible reading and devotion, or the end of the day when you are tired and ready for bed? Do you give YHVH the first fruits (tithe) of your income or the leftovers (or none at all)? How are you helping to advance his kingdom on earth by using the talents, time and abilities he has given you, or are you using your energies and abilities to satiate the lusts of your flesh?

Deuteronomy 17:6 (and 19:15), By the testimony of two or three witnesses. In the Bible, one could not be accused of a crime (i.e. a sin) without the testimony of two or three eyewitnesses. This admonition is repeated in the Testimony of Yeshua:

But if he will not hear you, then take with you one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (Matt 18:16)

This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (2 Cor 13:1)

Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. (1 Tim 5:19)

He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. (Heb 10:28)

Most gossip and slander would stop if this commandment were followed, and thus much division and strife within the congregation of believers. 

How many times have you repeated hearsay and gossip without checking the source? Even if you know it to be true, is it beneficial and righteous to repeat it to others? One Jewish sage goes so far as to say that Messiah has not come back because of all the gossip and slander of the people of Israel. Perhaps. At the very least, the Spirit of Elohim is greatly grieved, our intimacy with Elohim is diminished, and our marriages, families, friendships and congregations are fractured, hurt or destroyed because we speak things that should not be uttered.

How often do we accuse, slander and gossip about other people through use of the “evil tongue” (lashon hara) without going through proper channels and following proper biblical protocols to resolve interpersonal conflicts as Yeshua instructed in Matthew 18? How often do we attack others and spread our evil reports and accusations about others when we were not even eyewitnesses to what occurred or were not involved in the matter? How often do we attack YHVH’s leaders and accuse them of evil when there are no other witnesses (1 Tim 5:19)? YHVH hates those who sow discord among brethren and lying false witnesses, and calls this practice an abomination (Prov 6:16–17, 19). So let’s all be careful with our mouths!

Deuteronomy 17:2–5, Dealing with wickedness. Probably no one reading this is involved in any of the gross idolatrous practices listed here, but there are those little foxes (or little sins) that spoil the grapes (Song 2:15) and the little bit of leaven (tiny sins) that inflates or sours the whole loaf of bread. What ­idols or heathen practices, unrighteous world views, worldly attitudes, secular tendencies, profane habits and thought ­patterns, verbal expressions, etc. have you assimilated into your life that are keeping you from walking a higher, and hence, a more intimate and anointed walk with YHVH? Ask the Ruach haKodesh (the Set-Apart Spirit) to reveal these spiritual idols and strongholds to you so you can rid your life of them.

Deuteronomy 17:8–13, Matters of controversy. How respectful and obedient are you to the spiritual leaders YHVH has placed over you? Or do you follow their wise counsel only if and when it suits you? Nowadays if we don’t like a leader we simply leave our congregation and find a new one. In ancient Israel, this was not an option, nor was it an option in the first century. There was only one congregation in each town, and if there was a disagreement, people had to learn to work out their differences. What if we were in that situation today? How would that change your method of operation if you couldn’t just “cut and run” whenever things didn’t go your way or you got offended?

Deuteronomy 17:14–20, King over you. It is YHVH’s will for Israel to be ruled by a king. In the Messianic Era (Millennium), King Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of David, will rule not only over Israel but over the entire world from Jerusalem. YHVH ordained righteous leadership to help guide his people in the ways of truth and righteousness. 

When there is no leadership, everyone does what is right in his own eyes as occurred during the time of the judges. The Bible gives numerous examples of the chaos that results in a society or a group of people where there is no leadership. For example, The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash points out, “Two of the saddest episodes after Israel arrived in its Land—the graven image of Micah (Judg 17–18) and the atrocity involving the concubine at Gibeah (Judg 19–21)—are described by Scripture as having been possible only because there was no king in Israel (Judg 18:1; 19:1); had there been the leadership and discipline of a righteous king, he would never have permitted such outrages to take place” (pp. 1028–1029). 

Elohim is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). Nowhere in the Bible does Elohim permit his people to be leaderless whether it was patriarchal leadership, Levitical leadership, the leadership of judges and prophets, kingly leadership, the leadership of apostles and elders culminating in the leadership of King Yeshua and the glorified saints that will be ruling with him as kings and priests in his millennial kingdom. 

Numerous times in Scripture, YHVH not only expects his  people to obey the righteous leaders he has put in place, but even unrighteous civil leaders (at least until they demand that one disobeys the higher laws of Elohim).

Many times in the Hebraic Roots Movement, one encounters folks who have been emotionally traumatized and hurt in the past by ungodly church leadership. As a result, many of these people now refuse to come under any leadership at all godly or otherwise. They pride themselves in establishing congregations and fellowships “where no one is the leader.” This is a recipe for disaster. Get back to me in one, two or five years and let me know who your experiment in this ungodly venture went. Eventually division and strife will tear such groups apart! After all, if everyone has equal say and anything can go on, who is going to stand up and say “this is wrong” and “that is unbiblical”? When grievous wolves in sheep’s clothing come in to tear the flock apart, who is going to put these agents of Satan out of the fellowship? 

No, leaderless groups are not a good thing. Those who want this are either naive when it comes to the machinations of human nature, or are they are rebels themselves and really don’t Elohim to rule over them, since he is the author of godly, righteous leadership

Do you resist YHVH-ordained leadership? If you have been hurt or “burned” by unscrupulous and self-serving leaders in the past, do you now refuse to recognize YHVH-ordained leadership thus losing the blessings that such leadership could bestow on your life? Let’s not throw the proverbial baby of righteous leadership out with the bath water because of our past hurtful experience. 

Deuteronomy 17:18, He shall write. The king was to know the Torah so that he could rule righteously based on the Word of YHVH. The book of Revelation says that the saints will be kings and priest ruling with Yeshua in the Millennium. Do you want to rule with him? If so, what are you doing now to prepare yourself for that position of responsibility? Is the study of YHVH’s Word a priority in your life or does it get bumped to last place after you have completed all the physical things you feel you need to do? How we prepare now for the future will determine our level of reward in YHVH’s kingdom. Will you be the least or the greatest? This will be determined by your study and practice of Torah. (See Matt 5:19.)


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