Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Holy Prophet Habakkuk

Today we have another of the Holy Prophets to commemorate. I think many of us don't even think of him except on Pascha when we hear (Paschal Canon, Ode 4, Eirmos) the thrilling news that he is standing vigil with us to testify to the Resurrection. But here just 22 days from the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus we are supposed to commemorate him. Why? Three reasons:

He prophecied the coming Jesus with these words:
יצאת לישע עמך לישע את-משיחך
"You went out to save your people, to save (with) your Anointed."
(You should read Eric Jobe on this verse.)

Also Habakkuk's book's theme of theodicy, and God using evil invading empires (e.g. the Babylonians & Chaldeans) to work His indomitable will on the earth is in a complementary key to what would happen 600 years later. As we will hear during the Feast of Nativity, "When Agustus ruled the world" God, as unlikely as it seems to the natural eye, used the might of Rome as a tool to get a pregnant woman and her betrothed from Galilee to Bethlehem.

Finally, after talking about the total foolishness of worshiping idols in Chapter 2, the Holy Prophet says "God is in his temple, let the earth keep silent". This was expanded in the Liturgy of St. James...

Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and with fear and trembling stand. Ponder nothing earthly-minded, Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and with fear and trembling stand. Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for the King of kings and Lord of lords advances to be slain and given as food to the faithful. Before him go the choirs of Angels, with every rule and authority, the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, veiling their sight and crying out the hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Interestingly, an early 19th Century English translation of this hymn has found its way into many Protestant hymnals, where it is usually classified as an Advent Hymn because of the line about the Lord advancing toward us, and is popular with choirs more than it is with congregations.


DebD said...

I never knew that about "Let all Mortal Flesh keep silent" Very interesting stuff... thanks Matt.

Mimi said...

Never having been Protestant, I've never heard it in anything but an Orthodox setting, but I love that it "made the jump" so to speak.

And, I love that line in the Paschal Canon.