As part of our series on Christian hope I am doing two mid-week Bible study sessions on issues popularly connected with the so-called 'end times'.
In ten days time I'm tackling the tribulation, rapture, the anti-Christ, the future of geographical Israel and the like, all beliefs that I associate with dispensational premillennialism but continue to exercise quite an influence over people's thinking.
Last week I tackled 'reading Revelation without going nuts', offering some reading strategies and a little New Testament social history to help folk get a handle on this difficult, demanding but fabulous book.
I've had one or two people saying how helpful it was, that for the first time they didn't feel afraid of the Apocalypse. We'll see if the positive response continues through the next session!
In preparing for the evening on Revelation, I found Simon Woodman's new volume The Book of Revelation (in the SCM core texts series) quite helpful - I've only been able to dip into it and haven't read it from cover-to-cover, but I shall keep it close to hand. Simon Ponsonby's And the Lamb wins is also helpful, well written and comprehensive - though I don't agree with all his conclusions. And Stephen Sizer's two books on Christian zionism are utterly indispensable for the historical context within people read Revelation these days.
But I found myself coming back to and recommending people get hold of and use Michael Wilcock's Bible Speaks Today volume and Paul Barnett's Revelation: Apocalypse Now and Then which is equally excellent. If Christians immersed themselves in the text of Revelation and these two reliable guides, they wouldn't go far wrong in understanding what John was and is saying.
I look forward to our next session.