Saturday, December 2, 2017

Saintly Saturday: The Prophet Habakkuk

Today is the Feast of the Prophet Habakkuk. Not much is known about this Prophet, because, unlike almost every other prophet, his book does not give any biographical information. Several things can be gleaned from Scripture, however. He speaks of the Chaldeans and therefore places him at or about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. There is also a book popularly known as Bal and the Dragon and is understood to be apocryphal by the Protestants and deuterocanonical by the Catholics. In the Orthodox Christian tradition, it is included in the book of Daniel. Habakkuk is preparing a meal and is approached by an angel who tells him to make enough for two. He does so and then is taken by the angel to the pit where Daniel has been imprisoned with the lions. The second meal is lowered to Daniel and Habakkuk is returned home.

The Book of Habakkuk is one of my favorites. He is one of the only Prophets to directly challenge God:
O Lord, how long shall I cry,
And You will not hear?
Even cry out to You, “Violence!”
And You will not save.
Why do You show me iniquity,
And cause me to see trouble?
For plundering and violence are before me;
There is strife, and contention arises.
Therefore the law is powerless,
And justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
How many of us have said something like this to God? Here is one of His prophets giving us voice.

It is also short, so it is not that difficult of a read from a time perspective and yet is one of the most challenging book in Scripture because of all the amazing imagery he uses. Check out these verses from Chapter 3:
God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.
The brightness was like the sun; rays came forth from his hand, where his power lay hidden.
Was your wrath against the rivers, O Lord? Or your anger against the rivers, or your rage against the sea,when you drove your horses, your chariots to victory?
You brandished your naked bow, sated were the arrows at your command.
You marched through the land in indignation;
You trampled the nations in anger.
You went forth for the salvation of Your people,
For salvation with Your Anointed.
Chapter 3 is actually acknowledged to be a song and, believe it or not, the Orthodox Church actually uses it as the basis for many of her of hymns. Metaphorically, this whole chapter speaks to the incarnation of Christ. He comes from the Virgin (the mountain) and conquers the nations as the Anointed One (which is what “Christ” means). Growing up I hated Christmas, and this hymn made me look past my own pain and appreciate the awesome nature of the Feast.

From the perspective of an RPG, consider this description of the Chaldeans from Chapter 1:
Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on.
Yea, their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour.
They all come for violence; terror of them goes before them. They gather captives like sand.
Imagine that as the description for a monster type. Imagine that as the basis for the main baddies of a campaign world. Is there a FRPG monster that fits this bill? One of the more mundane possibilities would be Worg riding Goblins. Or would you just make something up whole cloth?


DeusNihl said...

This is amusing :) I don't know how familiar you are with Dragonlance, but Habakkuk is the CG god of nature and the seas in that setting lol

FrDave said...

That is news to me...I didn't enjoy my first foray into Dragonlance and thus stubbornly avoided the rest of the phenomenon. In retrospect, I tend to be a grumpy old grognard about Dragonlance and see it as a watershed moment in RPGs that I do not see as positive. So, I continue to stubbornly avoid the phenomenon...but it is kind of fun to know that the name Habakkuk graces those pages. If I ever were to play a campaign (and it would take some convincing) I'd be interested to see how much Habakkuk resembles Habakkuk...