What are three eschatological visions of major prophets in the Old Testament?

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There are three major categories of Old Testament prophecy. These themes are the exile and oppression of Jews within the Old Testament era, the coming of the Messiah, and the "new creation" at the end of time. There are different ways to interpret these prophecies, but they ultimately emphasize the idea of reconciliation between God and God's people that is important to all three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

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Eschatology refers to beliefs regarding what happens after human life, or more broadly, at the end of humankind itself. Old Testament prophets have three major categories of visions in this realm. The first deals with what will happen within the era of the Old Testament, the second deals with the coming of the Messiah, and the third deals with "the new creation," or the end of human time as we know it.

The first theme of prophetic writings pertains to the lives of Jewish people in the historical period during which the Old Testament is believed to have been written. One of the most prominent set of prophecies deals with the oppression and exile of the Jews. An example is the fall of Jerusalem, the holy city of the Jewish people. The prophet Jeremiah warned of Jerusalem's destruction in Jeremiah 6:2, where he says, "destruction is near." According to the Bible, this prophecy came to fruition when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BC. There are also prophecies pertaining to the return of exiles and the reconstruction of Jerusalem, which are also fulfilled in biblical texts. Overall, these prophecies illustrate themes of "exile/return" and "oppression/deliverance" that are key to Jewish beliefs in God's covenant with Israel.

The second theme of prophetic writings regards what Christians believe is the coming of Christ. For example, in Isaiah 53, the prophet predicts the birth of a savior who will grow up to be "despised and rejected" as a servant of God. He also asserts that the Messiah will be slaughtered as a sacrifice to cleanse the sins of humanity. Christians believe that these prophecies were fulfilled in the person of Jesus, but modern Jews interpret these passages differently. Some Jews believe that a Messiah will come, but that Jesus was not the Messiah because he did not end the oppression of Jews under the Roman Empire. Other Jews, however, believe that these prophecies are metaphorical and speak to the ways Jews themselves are obligated to work towards peace and liberation; this interpretation is in opposition to the belief that liberation can come from a singular person.

The final set of prophecies deal with the "new creation." Members of all three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) believe that these prophecies have not yet been fulfilled. Many prophets believe that God's judgment of the wicked will precede this new creation, with judgment being particularly harsh for those who exploited the poor and vulnerable. However, most prophets put more emphasis on the renewal and restoration that will take place in the new creation. Isaiah predicts a world where there will be universal peace and prosperity. For example, in Isaiah 2:4, he writes that people will

beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not rise against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

Christians, Muslims, and some Jews believe that the second coming of Christ will accompany this period. Other Jews believe that it is the responsibility of God's people to usher in this "utopia" of sorts through their devotion to God and commitment to justice.

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