Joash’s Spiritual Encounter
Synopsis 2 Kings 13:10-19 9/11/2019
After King Jehoahaz died, his son became the new king. This was Joash.
Once again, the king of Israel and the king of Judah shared the same name. But this condition lasted for only a couple of years before King Joash, of Judah, died. After this, Amaziah became king over Judah.
As the prophet Elisha was sick and neared death, Joash came to see him. Elisha intended to bless the king before he died. So, he asked Joash to show him his bow. And he also asked him to shoot an arrow out of this window. Finally, he asked King Joash to pound the ground.
The king pounded the ground three times. But this displeased Elisha, who was hoping for a more forceful response. As a result, Elisha prophesied that Joash would decisively defeat Aram three times.
However, because of Joash lukewarm response, Aram would not be entirely defeated in Joash’s time.
Joash’s Spiritual Encounter
Elisha’s final encounter with the king of Israel was strange.
The strangeness isn’t that King Joash was upset at losing Elisha. For Joash was the son of Jehu, whom Elisha had installed as king. So, Joash’s despair makes perfect sense.
Still, this final meeting was strange. Specifically, Elisha asked the young king to perform certain strange, symbolic acts. These included shooting an arrow out of the prophet’s window. Additionally, Joash was directed to “beat” the ground with the remaining arrows. And somehow these symbolic actions represented the future of warfare against Aram, Israel’s archenemy.
However, the scene is not unlike a conversation that Elisha once had with his own servant. At one point, the Arameans decided to capture Elisha. And so, they surrounded his camp in the night. Gehazi, his servant, was worried at the prospect of being surrounded by the Aramean army. But Elisha prayed that God would open Gehazi’s eyes. And so, God did. And Gehazi was suddenly aware that an army of angels stood ready to defend Elisha. For a moment, the servant was given direct access to the unseen spiritual reality around him.
Like the servant Gehazi, King Joash failed to recognize the spiritual dimension of his encounter. Still, he obeyed to the best of his natural reasoning.
But the result was muted. He did not enter into the possibility that God had prepared for him because he failed to recognize the essentially spiritual nature of the encounter. More importantly, he failed to recognize that the spiritual reality of his situation is what determines the actual experience of his circumstances.
Spirit Before Actuality
I’m like Joash in this respect. I’m sometimes willing to obey even if I don’t understand. I go to mass even though I don’t understand every aspect of what’s going on. And this affords some positive outcome.
But God does not intend that I remain blind. He isn’t forever interested in my ignorant obedience. He intends that I learn. And He intends that I grow into the capacity to see the utter reality of the mass – and especially the Eucharist. He intends that I grow from a basic trusting that is mediated by the insight of another. He wants me to experience a mature understanding of who the Christ is and what it means to the ordinary reality of my life to have access to him.
“Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” John 6:53