Habakkuk and Easter

In the festive Paschal service, during which the congregation is captivated in the joy of Christ’s resurrection, we hear an interesting reference to the Old Testament. The fourth ode in the paschal canon of St John of Damascus tells us that the Prophet Habakkuk foretold of the Incarnation and the triumph of the Son of God. This arises in the third chapter of his Old Testament book, being the Hymn of Habakkuk.

Habakkuk wrote that God ‘will be revealed when the time comes’, being in Christ’s incarnation where he took on flesh and sanctified humanity. We then read that God ‘shall be known between the two living creatures’ (verse 2). Patristic commentary notes that this refers to two events: Firstly, the Metamorphosis of the Lord on Mt Tabor where Moses and Elijah stood on either side of Christ; and secondly, the Crucifixion where Christ was placed between the two thieves. Habakkuk further prophesies Christ’s crucifixion: ‘Horns will be in His hand, and He established a mighty love of His strength’ (verse 4). This refers to the nails in Christ’s hands, which shows us that He knew before His incarnation of the suffering that He would endure.

Habakkuk writes that the message of Christ ‘shall go forth’ (verse 5), foretelling not only the resurrection of Christ but also the apostleship that He entrusted to His followers in the spreading of the gospel. Through the resurrection of Christ, humanity is united in a singular triumph over sin and death. Habakkuk’s prophesy that ‘the nations melted away’ (verse 6) is mirrored in St Paul’s words that ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28).

Source: Lychnos April 2022 /May 2022