Most of us think of prophecy as something coming in the future. So in our Bibles, Old Testament prophecies are translated in the future tense. What else could they be? But the writers of the Hebrew Bible had a different view of prophecy than we do. When they wrote prophecy, they used a verb form most often used for past events.* Why would they do that? It seems that the most important thing about prophecy for them was not that it was coming in the future, as we think of it, but that it was something completed, fixed and finished in the mind of God—God said it, and that finishes it—even though the fulfillment might be far in the future.
|The modern portico on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Jesus likely debated the Sadducees in a similar location in the ancient and much larger portico of Herod's Temple.|
The Millennium doctrine—that the righteous will reign with Messiah for a thousand years—is one of the most disputed teachings of the New Testament. A problem for some is that it appears to spring up out of nowhere in the book of Revelation (Rev. 20), a book filled with many puzzling symbols. This has made it easy for many to neglect or even to reject this important expectation of the Early Church. But did Jesus himself believe in the Millennium?