The Spread of Knowledge and Scientific Discovery
Daniel 12:4
But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro…

These words bring before us a great increase of knowledge as one main feature of the last times announced to us in the close of this remarkable prophecy.

I. THE PREDICTION ITSELF IS MOST REMARKABLE. Only two of the prophets were named by our Saviour in His teachings. Esaias and Daniel. Our Lord Himself exhorts His people to pay particular attention to the prophecy Daniel has given. Daniel's last prophecy closes with the words of the text.

1. What is meant by "the time of the end?" The last times, in contrast to some earlier period. It may apply to three periods.

(1) All the times of the Christian dispensation. The meaning of the prophecy was not to be understood until the Messiah had appeared, and the light of the Gospel had begun to dawn. Until then they must be content to wait. The days of the apostles, when the Christian dispensation began, were, compared with former ages, a time of great social intercourse and large increase of knowledge. It was an age of remarkable civilization; the knowledge of natural science was greatly increased.

(2) The later times of the Christian dispensation; eminently to the period of the great and blessed Reformation. The times of the Reformation were marked by the two features which are mentioned in the text — "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."(3) The times in which we are now living, that period of the world's history which commenced with the outbreak of the flint French Revolution, and reaches to the present hour.


1. The means of intercourse were never so abundant as in the present age. It is marked above all others for multiplying the means of rapid communication. The motives for intercourse have been increased in the same proportion. The whole world has been thrown open to our researches. The Colonial empire of our own country is a remarkable feature of the present age. The whole earth is in a manner at our feet, and thus there is a political necessity for our people to be in rapid intercourse with all the countries on the face of the globe. These two things have completely changed the whole character of the age in which we live. The inspired prediction also says, "knowledge shall be increased."

1. Natural knowledge shall be increased. This seems necessarily to be implied. True, there was some increase of knowledge in the Augustan age. In the days when the Gospel was first preached there were discoveries in science and art of no mean importance. There was a great increase in natural knowledge in the time of the Reformation, when printing and gunpowder, and the telescope and microscope, were first invented. But of all ages, beyond all comparison, Our own age is that in which natural knowledge has been most increased. Look at the grand compartments of human science, and see what an immense development every one of them has received.

(1)  The science of the heavens.

(2)  Of the earth.

(3)  The elements which compose both earth and the heavens.The words also apply to historical science, the knowledge of the world's history, including natural knowledge, political knowledge, spiritual or Christian knowledge. Such is the wonderful fact spread before our eyes, what practical lessons then may be gathered from the words of the text?

(1)  The wonderful nature of God's foreknowledge.

(2)  The value of Divine truth, and of an insight into the prophecies of the Word of God.

(3)  The wonderful and impressive character of the times in which we live.We are in the midst of wonderful events already past, the precursors of something still more wonderful and glorious, the coming of Christ, and the establishment of that Kingdom which is "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

(T. R. Birks, M.A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

WEB: But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run back and forth, and knowledge shall be increased."

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