I want to offer some thoughts on the interpretation of the statement in Daniel ch12 v4; “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall
Even in the nineteenth century, people were beginning to interpret this in terms of the rapidity of movement made possible by the invention of
railways. Since then, of course, we’ve developed even faster methods of transport, and people cross the globe on a regular basis. At the same time,
there’s been as rapid expansion of other kinds of knowledge. My grandfather was once given “Discoveries and Inventions of the Nineteenth
Century” as a school prize; this was already a very thick volume, covering the whole ground from steam-engines to coal-tar colours, but who would
venture to write a one-volume sequel for the next century?
On the face of it, then, this verse is a picture of the modern age, with the implication that these conditions presage the approach of the
However, if this verse is really meant to portray the conditions leading up to the end-times, it is very oddly placed in the chapter. It almost looks
like an afterthought, coming as it does just after the story has been brought to a climax in Michael’s triumph and the resurrection.
This verse has a very different look if it’s taken in conjunction with a passage in the last chapter of Revelation.
In Daniel ch12 v4, we find;
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, until the time of the end.
Many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase.”
In Revelation ch22 vv10-11, we find;
“Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.
Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy”.
If we take these two passages together, it seems clear enough, as all commentators recognise, that the first portion of the Daniel verse is
deliberately reversed in the first portion of the Revelation passage. Circumstances have changed, the end has arrived, and so the seals are no longer
But this leads on to the discovery that the same must be true about the second portions of the two passages. We can use them to explain each other, on
the basis that Revelation describes the reverse of what Daniel is describing.
In order to make this work, we need to recognise that the “running” in this Daniel verse is about the movement between doing evil and doing right.
Then there is a clear contrast between the two passages.
Daniel says that people will be running backwards and forwards between these two options.
Revelation says that people will be standing still, remaining with whichever option they’ve chosen.
So the complete message of Daniel ch12 v4 would be as follows;
This book, the knowledge of God’s plan, is to be kept sealed; full knowledge will not be revealed until the time of the end. During the interval,
people will be hesitating between the rival attractions of evil and righteousness. Nevertheless, over the long-term, the world-wide knowledge of
While the converse message of the Revelation passage would be as follows;
Now that the time of the end has arrived, and God’s judgement is being revealed, this knowledge no longer needs to be hidden. Whatever choice people
have made, between evil and righteousness, that will be their final status. They will be judged on that basis.
edit on 16-4-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)