Gaslighters in the Bible
Any of this sound familiar?
Dathan and Abiram
Numbers 16:12-13 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and they said, “We will not come up. Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also make yourself a prince over us?
So Moses, who was used as God’s deliverer, who rescued them from slavery and despair, is being told that he dragged them out of Utopia and into the wilderness so he could kill them and then be a prince over their dead bodies. Dathan and Abiram are making out that Egypt was a land flowing in milk and honey! ? And they’re saying that not only is Moses killing them in the wilderness, but he also wants to make himself prince over them! ?
Like most abuserese, it doesn’t even make sense. We all know that the Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt; they were under the lash, trying to make bricks without straw. And while they were in the wilderness, God protected and provided for them (except those who most defiantly rebelled whom He killed or had stoned, and even then, the deaths of those rebels could be said to be protective for the group as a whole, because it cleaned out the bad apples). And rather than Moses wanting to rule over them as a prince, he found the task of leading them burndensome; indeed, he had begged God not to impose it on him. Like all abusers, these gaslighters Dathan and Abiram were the ones who were after power, and in their fleshly small mindedness and bid for power, they asserted that Moses had the same base motives they had.
I don’t even know how often this was the scenario in my marriage. X and his allies twisted events and accused me of ruining everyone’s bliss because I wanted power. The abusers’ playbook is limited. This has been going on from the beginning of time. But we can learn from the Scriptures and our experiences. We can be wise to these tactics. I don’t think (or even hope) that the ground will open up and swallow X and his allies, but I am confident that God will use this all for His glory.
Another example of a gaslighter in the Bible is Jezebel. She is a treasure trove of sermon examples, but right now I am thinking of her last words. Let me pause to promote the history books of First and Second Kings and First and Second Chronicles. Man, I love those books and the amazing stories in them! There are fantastic heroes and villains, miracles, prophecies that make your hair stand on end and all kinds of greatness. I listen to the audio Bible all the time and I get so excited when we get to the history books. If you’re not familiar with the background to this story let me give you the abbreviated version. Jezebel and Ahab were in power over Israel. They were bad news in all kinds of ways, but one day Ahab had a tantrum because he wanted Naboth’s field for a home improvement project and he couldn’t get it. Jezebel had Naboth killed in order to get the field for Ahab. So she’s a murderer in addition to all of her other horrible deeds that are detailed in the history books. And as God sends Jehu to execute His judgement on her, she tries to make Jehu change his tack, implying that he will regret it if he harms her:
2 Kings 9:31-33 And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master? And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs. And he said, Throw her down.
This part of the audio Bible is just AWESOME! It’s dramatized and Jehu sounds so fierce and growly. “THROW HER DOWN!” I just want to cheer!
So Jezebel, who had an innocent man murdered in order to get her wicked husband to quit throwing a fit, is daring to tell Jehu that he’s up to no good? Gah! These gaslighters are so full of it! They always try to make the righteous people feel guilty, or at least make them doubt their own minds. Thankfully Jehu didn’t even pause to answer Jezebel’s question/accusation. He just had her tossed out the window. Love that.
And I think the way Jehu ignores Jezebel’s question provides a good model to us when a gaslighter is attempting to get us off course. Because we’re good little neurotics, we feel the nice thing to do is answer a question that’s been asked. After all, perhaps Jezebel has forgotten that she’s a murderer and her acts demand God’s judgement and we ought to pause to help her, to explain things to her so she has just one more chance to repent. Oh, their questions used to be so confusing. Questions DO NOT require an answer. Jezebel wasn’t confused or forgetful. She was trying to keep a hold on her power. That’s all.
If the abusers/gaslighters in our lives want answers, really want answers, let them fall on their face before the throne of God and ask Him. Let them humble themselves and beg God to change them. They have no business asking us to help them change. Go change with the help of God and a therapist and come back without demands, without questions/blame/accusations and stay changed for a LOOONNNGG time (I have yet to see this happen). But don’t accuse me of disturbing the peace for speaking truth.