The prophets anticipated the coming of God’s rule among his people. The exile ended, the restoration began, the Greeks invaded, apocalyptic literature was written to encourage the people, the Jews fought for and won independence, and then the unexpected happened.
When the Israelites expected God to bring his kingdom to earth and the reign of his messiah, the Romans invaded and took things over. And despite this devastating turn in events, there were still glimmers of hope expressed in the same manner as the prophets and intertestamental writings.
Take a look at Luke 1:1-25 for instance. A man has a vision, an angel promises a child to his barren wife, and then his wife conceives and sets herself apart to the Lord. The promise of deliverance remains:
1:16[John] He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.
1:17 And he will go as forerunner before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.”
Things are not looking great at the moment, but God’s promises remain.