Friends of mine have been struggling with a family member who is accusing my friends of not loving the family member. (I’m purposefully avoided gendered pronouns to preserve confidentiality.) What you need to know is that my friends’ family member committed adultery, thus damaging a relationship with another member of the family. That act of adultery has led to many years of pain and eventually to divorce proceedings. Now the person who committed adultery is blaming the rest of the family, including my friends, for not loving him correctly. This seems to me to be an example of gaslighting. Have you heard that term before? You can read all about it here.
As we continue following what happens in the virtual reality dream vision that God gives Ezekiel, we need to talk about gaslighting. It seems that there are some people who are trying to gaslight God. But first, let’s learn what happens as the vision continues.
The man with the writing kit returns from marking the faithful remnant to salvation, and we head into chapter 10. Read chapter 10 to learn what happens next in the amazing vision God gives Ezekiel.
If you’ve been following our study through Ezekiel for the past few months, the events of chapter 10 should sound very familiar. The vision of the flaming lightning throne chariot that Ezekiel saw in chapter 1 is back! Remember the cherubim with the four faces and six wings, and wheels? They formed the four legs of a table-like chariot. The table top is called an expanse seemingly made of ice, and sitting on the table top is the throne of God, where the presence of the glory of God resides.
God has the man with the writing kit take fiery coals from the cherubim, and though we don’t know precisely what he does with the coals, the insinuation in Ezekiel 10, verse 2 is that he will scatter the coals over the city of Jerusalem, setting it ablaze and destroying it. That depicts the final judgement of the Lord on the city.
What is most important in this chapter, though, is the movement of the flaming lightning throne chariot as it carries the glory of the Lord. Where does it go? The glory of the Lord is about to exit the temple. This is a significant moment.
Consider with me the history of the glory of the Lord in the nation of Israel. First, remember the Exodus, when God led the people in the pillar of cloud and fire. Then the glory of the Lord entered the tabernacle. Finally, the glory of the Lord entered the temple, after Solomon built and dedicated it. Now hundreds of years later, God’s glory is leaving the temple. It is similar to God saying, as we read in previous chapters of Ezekiel, “I will turn my face away from you.” Now God’s glory, his presence, leaves the Jews because of their idolatry.
What we have learned in Ezekiel chapters 8-10 is that God has given Ezekiel a vision of judgement on the wicked in Jerusalem. There is hope, though, because God will spare the righteous. But for the wicked, they are in big trouble, as God gets set to leave the temple.
Shockingly, though, those wicked people are blaming God, as if it is his fault. Isn’t that how it often goes? We look for someone else to blame when the natural consequences of our actions catch up with us. That’s one example of gaslighting. As the article I linked above explains, gaslighting is a form of relational manipulation where one person commits a sin against another person, but the person who commits the sin tries to convince the victim that it was their fault all along. It seems like the people of Judah are gaslighting God.
It is a reminder of how far we can go astray, but instead of having a proper awareness of what we have done and a humble ownership of our sin, we blame others, including God. We humans are incredibly good as justifying or explaining away bad behavior, in big and small ways.
How about you? Are you quick to accept correction? Or are you one who right away justifies your behavior? Or worse, maybe you are good at turning the tables around and blaming others?