Some people still believe that when Columbus sailed for the New World that he and most of the world at that time believed in a “flat earth”. The fact of the matter is that sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth was spherical and had known for many centuries.
This is an example of a “common misconception”. In religion, as well as in oceanography, misconceptions abound. Here are eight very common ones I have found under the study of Eschatology. Hopefully these will all go the way of the “flat earth” myth!
#1. Timing of The Rapture
“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him…” 2 Thess 2:1
The event know popularly as “the Rapture” is not the “one will be taken and the other left behind” passage from the Gospels. (Mtt 24;Luke 17). Jesus said that where these people were taken “there the vultures would gather.”
“Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left… ‘Where, LORD?’ they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.” Luke 17: 35-37
Obviously the ones taken to where “the vultures gather” is not a good thing! This is not the rapture. The rapture (though not a biblical word is a biblical concept) is found in texts attributed to both Paul and John. In the New Testament it is called the “gathering to Christ in the air” at the 7th trumpet or last trumpet. (I Cor 15:52; I Thess 4:15-17; Rev 10-11) This “gathering in the air” will not come as a surprise to anyone on earth because it will be preceded by 13 consecutive divine judgments of God to this planet! (7 seals; 6 trumpets; Rev 6-9)
Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. I Thess 4:17
#2. Rome is not Babylon. Babylon is Babylon. (Rev 17-18)
Old Testament prophecies that have been fulfilled were always fulfilled in an exact and accurate manner. Take for example the famous “30 pieces of silver” or the prediction that the King would come into Jerusalem “riding on the foal of a donkey”.
During the Age of Reformation (1517-1648) it was almost universally proclaimed that Catholic Rome was the “spiritual Babylon” of the book of Revelation and the literal interpretation has been lost to the church ever since. We have done exactly that which the apostle Peter warned against: each man is left to come up with his own “private interpretation”. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
There is no biblical support for calling Babylon any other city on earth except the Babylon on the Euphrates river in Iraq. It will be the same Babylon where Nimrod built a tower to reach to God. The same city where Nebuchadnezzar, featured in the book of Daniel, lived and brought God’s judgment to the Jewish people. The same city where Alexander died in 323 BC at the young age of 33. Finally, it is the same river that will dry up for the armies of satan to come to the battle of Armageddon.
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east… to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. Rev 16:12,14
#3. The antichrist “being revealed” is still future. (II Thess 2; Rev 6,13)
The antichrist has not yet appeared in human history. He was not Nero, Napoleon, the Pope, Hitler… they were all types/forerunners.
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” 2Th 2:8
When he is finally revealed, the “little horn” (Daniel 7) will be obvious to every one on earth! He will force all nations to worship him and seek to kill all those who won’t. (Rev 13)
4. The seals, trumpets and bowls are still future. (Rev 6-16)
The book of Revelation clearly describes 21 consecutive divine judgments of God that will bring this earth to her knees. This obviously has not happened yet!! (e.g. Have you seen 100 pound hailstones rain down on the entire earth?)
Therefore we are not to look back into history to find that the red horse was Communism, etc. These horses – white, red, black and pale – cannot be made to “fit in” to history with the exactness required by fulfilled prophecy. Many try but they are all pointing to the type and not the “real deal” – that is still to come!
“Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.” Rev 6:4
#5. The first seal – the white horse – is not Jesus but the antichrist! (Rev 6)
Jesus is the one breaking off the 7 seals from the Scroll. Jesus is not releasing Jesus to the world in this text! He is calling forth the antichrist to bring about the “end of this age” and the begin the “age to come”.
“I [John] watched as the Lamb [Jesus] opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. Rev 6:1-2
#6. Leaven is always evil. (Mtt 13)
Whenever leaven is used as a type in the Bible it is always evil or sin.
Jesus warns, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). In discussing the danger of sin spreading, Paul uses the phrase “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” on two separate occasions (I Cor 5:6; Gal 5:9). (From Forerunner Commentary)
In Matthew 13, the church has historically had difficulty receiving this same “type” in the parable of the leaven hid in three measures of meal. They wish that it expresses the power and influence of the Gospel to penetrate all levels of society. Yet this interpretation makes this verse the only example in the entire Bible where leaven is good!
He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” Mat 13:33
#7. It is during the Millennium – the 1,000 year reign of Christ – that the world will be evangelized, NOT BEFORE! (Hab 2:14; Isa 11:9)
“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Isa 11:9
To put your mind at rest after reading #6 I have included here the truth that the world will not be reached until Jesus Himself returns and sets things straight.
Christ will return in the midst of a world-wide takeover by the Antichrist and his 10 nation federation. He will return to the Mount of Olives just in time to rescue the city and restore it. (Zech 14) The Jewish leaders will finally recognize Jesus as God’s Son and will welcome Him back to the city and to sit upon David’s throne. (Mtt 23)
From Jerusalem Jesus will send out missionaries to reach the whole earth so that the earth will eventually be filled with God’s glory as the waters cover the sea. (Isa 65)
“Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.” 1Cor 15:24
#8. The 10 kings are still future. They will arise from the revived Roman Empire, BOTH eastern and western halves. (Rev 13; Daniel 2,7)
As the  toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle… In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. Dan 2:42-44
The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. Dan 7:24-25
And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the [Mediterranean] sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. Rev 13:1
Most commentators see the 10 nations only rising from the western half of the Roman Empire. Scriptures call us to look at the entire Roman Empire from London to Babylon.
Until All Have Heard,
Nothing warms my heart on the subject of missions than the following picture. Here we see Paul and Silas stopping by at the home of Timothy and taking him under their wings and leading him out into a life-long apostolic calling.
May I say it again; nothing warms my heart more than this picture.
I see no big organization. I see no “amped-up” altar calls with grand appeals for money! I don’t see young Timothy being sent out “through the agency of man”. (Gal 1:1) I see only Paul and Silas, en-route to revisit the churches started on Paul’s first apostolic trip, picking up another team member.
Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him… (Acts 16:1-3)
Forever after Paul called Timothy “my dear son”. (2 Tim 1:2) Paul apparently led Timothy to Jesus at a young age and called him “my true child in the faith” (1 Tim 1:2). Friends, if you can find an apostolic father like this, join him! You will have recreated missions like God intended.
What were Timothy’s credentials?
First and foremost, I believe, it is that Paul wanted him (Acts 16).
Second, I believe, it is that he “was well spoken of by the brethren” from his immediate home area! He had a spark of faith that both Paul and his neighbors recognized.
Thirdly, it seems that Timothy had a deep well of faith from home. This is highlighted when one realizes that Paul took Timothy away from home at the tender age of about 15 years old!
”For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” (2 Tim 1:5)
Fourthly, I believe, what set Timothy apart from the dozens of other capable young men in Asia Minor is that he was servant-hearted. Paul said as much:
”For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.” (Phil 2:20-22)
Missions like God intended.
I have shown this picture to other missionary friends over the years and they say they don’t “get it”! What am I so excited about?!?!
Well… it turns the whole missionary paradigm that we grew up with on its head!
> In missions, like God intended, you see small, mobile bands of brothers who stayed people’s homes. They stayed JUST long enough for the infant church to get grounded. Paul seemed to have an unease of “saying too long on one place”.
”So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” Phil 2:12
> In missions, like God intended, either “persecution” (Acts 14) or a “finished job” (Acts 19.21) moved the band of apostles and prophets on to a new work or region. Other times they knew it was time to report back to “Headquarters”.
> In missions, like God intended, upon return visits the churches it was the practice to take future apostles-in-training out of the home church and onto the field. (Acts 20:1-4) Some cities did not wait for a return visit but sent their people out anyway to Paul.
> In missions, like God intended, in-between visits happened frequently by the apostolic team; by team members like, Timothy, Titus, Tychicus, Epaphroditus. Paul wrote letters as well to “remind you of my ways in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4.17)
I close with a lengthy quote from my favorite author on missionary methods and principles, Roland Allen.
When we turn from the restless entreaties and exhortations which fill the pages of our modern missionary magazines to the pages of the New Testament, we are astonished at the change in the atmosphere. St. Paul does not repeatedly exhort his Churches to subscribe money for the propagation of the Faith, he is far more concerned to explain to them what the Faith is, and how they ought to practice it and to keep it. The same is true of St. Peter and St. John, and of all the apostolic writers. They do not seem to feel any necessity to repeat the great Commission, and to urge that it is the duty of their converts to make disciples of all the nations. What we read in the New Testament is no anxious appeal to Christians to spread the Gospel, but a note here and there which suggests how the Gospel was being spread abroad…
I know not how it may appear to others, but to me this unexhorted, unorganized, spontaneous expansion has a charm far beyond that of our modern highly organized missions. (The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church And the Causes Which Hinder It By Roland Allen1927)