With Christmas coming up I’ve been reflecting on prophecy. Prophecy is a VERY important part of many religions. One thing that seems to distinguish various religions from each other is their understanding of prophecy. For example, Jewish people do not believe that the Old Testament prophecies of a coming Messiah have yet been fulfilled. Christians, on the other hand, believe that these prophecies were fulfilled with the birth of Jesus Christ.
At first glance this might seem like a doctrinal disagreement that doesn’t really matter that much. But it seems to me that our understanding of wheather or not prophecy has yet been fulfilled is an extrememly important part of a person’s faith. Christians can imagine how different their faith would be if Jesus Christ had never been born; if they were still waiting for their Savior. Jewish people can imagine how different their faith would be if they suddenly found out that the long awaited Messiah had finally come.
Christianity in general also believes that there are prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled. Most revolve around the promise of a second coming of Jesus Christ that will be accompanied by a Last Judgment: “Immediatley after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken….They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matt. 24:29, 30)
Most Christians believe that this event has not yet happened, just as most Jews believe that the first coming has not yet happened. But according to the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg this prophecy has now been fulfilled! Rather than reflecting on HOW this prophecy has been fulfilled at this point, what’s interesting to me is what a life changing idea this is. Just think about the difference between living a Christian faith where you are constantly waiting for some great second coming of Christ; verses living a Christian faith where you believe that this second coming has already taken place. The former would be a faith that is always looking to the future; the later would be a faith that is able to be fully lived in the present.
So how different would Christianity be if people realized that the prophecy of the second coming of Christ that everyone has been waiting for for hundreds of years, has actually already been fulfilled? Just over 2,000 years ago, what started out as a small group of men and women started a whole new religion based on the fulfillment of a prophecy that a Savior would be born.
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isiah 7:14)