Daniel 12:4

But go thou thy way, etc. (ver. 13). From Daniel 12:4 to the end we have the epilogue to the last vision of the book. In the epilogue are many interesting matters, which will no doubt be developed in the Exposition. We here lay hold of the closing words of all, suggest them for homiletical treatment, and indicate their meaning. No more than this.

I. A PRECEPT. "Go thou thy way till the end be." Here the old man of near ninety years is bidden to continue in the path of well-doing until death; for that is "the end" referred to.

II. PROMISE. Threefold. Of:

1. Rest. In the grave. After that long, toilsome, noble life.

2. Resurrection. תָּקוּםאּתַּעֲטוד: To rise up from the rest of the grave.

3. Inheritance; i.e. with the saints in light. "Lot" has primary reference to the inheritance of Israel in Canaan; and so secondarily to the antitype, Heaven. - R.

Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
One of the most striking features of the history of the race has been the want of continuity or conformity in the progress of mankind. Nations have apparently shot up as toadstools do, in a night, and perished like them. Now and then a single nation has made an era. The Jewish people developed a great moral power. They were not pre-eminently a moral people; yet they gave birth to great natures that understood and gave form and expression to those moralities which have become the common proper of all the people of the earth, and that is about all they did. Faulty in a thousand things, they were employed simply to develop one single element — one letter of that sentence which shall spell final Christian civilisation. Then they subsided, but their work was garnered. The Grecian civilisation developed the intellectual, but in the direction of philosophy and art — not in the direction of domesticity. They had not moral power enough to cohere and maintain a permanent government. Then came the Roman civilisation. It developed itself in engineering; in the science of government pre-eminently. Its literature was a pale reflection of the Grecian. Then came the world's great plumber; and when mankind aroused out of this, they began that career of knowledge of which our text speaks. It is my purpose to show that it is that the spread of knowledge — real knowledge — among the whole of the peoples of different nations, is bringing forth fruit. The transcendent advance of intellect seems to be confined to the Western world. Still the Orient slumbers. In all previous developments the knowledge that was developed resided in the top of society. It caught only the philosophers, the men of genius, the educated men, the commercialists, the natural rulers of mankind; for where intelligence is, there rule will be. The people were yet left in deep darkness, and were held in contempt. Modern intelligence, unlike any that has preceded it, has neither been provincial nor class intelligence. The causes that have been operating are obvious, by which knowledge that begins at the top penetrates clear to the bottom. The progress of knowledge in science has been astounding. The Beconian philosophy is bearing fruit everywhere. All the more elemental sciences have sprung into existence within one hundred years — I mean, with anything like florescence and fruit. The two great discoveries that underlie or direct almost all others are evolution and the persistence of force. All knowledge has, taken on, or has tended to take on, a practical form. Plato, and the Platonic school, are tainted with the heresy that knowledge should be possessed simply for the love of knowledge, and that a man who wants knowledge for the sake of doing something with it is vulgar. The Baconian philosophy has revolutionised that. The knowledge that is diffusing itself through the world, and infusing the under classes of mankind, is largely concerned, with scientific inductions, and with the realisation of scientific discoveries in the industries: of the world. All knowledge has taken on a practical application, and thus it has aroused and educated the working men of the world. Great Britain may be called an empire of machines. It has been a great benefit, but at the same time it is more or less an injury. Putting machines against men is a dangerous operation. One machine will do more than thirty men. To a large extent machinery is working against opportunities. There has been a steady setting in from the individual industry toward the gigantic machine industry of the land. Where machinery is largely employed, it is generally because capital has organised itself. Where you concentrate capitalists into manufacturers you increase the producing power of material, and diminish the diffusing industry of individuals throughout, the community. You improve goods and deteriorate men. Organised capital is itself a tremendous element of civilisation; but organised capital has not yet learned the gospel. It is capital that is protected — not the working man. It is not my purpose here to enter into any criticism of the rude methods of the workmen who have combined for a greater advantage. I simply consider the effect of growing intelligence upon the conditions of industry and social life in the civilised nations of the earth. It is said that a little knowledge is dangerous. I say there is nothing more dangerous than blindness; an ignorant man is. a blind man. Every step of knowledge that a man can get is so much guaranteed that he will be more virtuous and more patriotic . . . . Patience, then, Hope, Courage, Justice — these should be our watchwords. We can see partial, imperfect, fulfilments, and can wait. We shall see the fulfilment of the designs of God. Society will grade itself. But there will be a just distribution of influences and results, and there will be peace and good fellowship.

(Henry Ward Beecher.)

It is not necessary to decide to what period of the world's history the text has reference. There have been several crises in human affairs at which it has found at least a partial fulfilment. We may apply the prediction to our Own age with the fullest propriety. There was never so much going and coming, and never so vast a growth of knowledge. Deal with that special form of Knowledge which is called science. Science may be described as the knowledge of nature reduced to system. It examines facts, arranges or classifies them, and tries to detect their hidden law. Science is a fact of modern growth. It has sprung forth full armed in these latter days. The world of Greece and Rome was wonderful in its way, but it had no science, in our modern sense of the word. Science dates very much from Bacon. Not entirely. There were other men of science before him. And science has grown wonderfully. It has amazingly enriched human life. It has quickened, too, all the neutral powers. What is there that we do not tabulate and catalogue? To this progress of science we can make no objection. People who object against science in reality do not know what they mean. "What's the use of screaming at the calm facts of creation?" said the wise American. If fact is on one side, and our dislikes or prejudices, or narrow theories, are on the other, it requires no prophet to tell which shall win. For fact proves itself. I do not admit that there is any inconsistency or opposition between religion and science. They may look at the same facts from different points of view. Yet, though perfectly at one, science and religion are not quite the same thing. Science is related to religion as one sister is to another. There are many questions of which you can scarcely tell whether they are properly scientific or religious. Yet religion is more than science. You may be steeped up to the lips and the eyes in science, and be without religion altogether. Science has a message which, as far as it goes, is a true gospel, a real good news. It promises a great increase of human convenience and comfort. The world is not nearly so pleasant a place to live in as it might be. It promises to give us subjects of thought and investigation which will add greatly to the interest of life. And nobly is the promise fulfilled. It promises a vast enlargement of our view of the world. It will widen the boundaries of thought as to the facts of this wonderful universe; by revealing both the infinitely little and the infinitely great. It promises a great amelioration of our social arrangements. I accept to the full the gospel of science. But no science can fill the place of the Saviour. Science is only for time; it has no gospel as to eternity. Science has no gospel for the sinful and suffering millions. Science has no power of moral inspiration, no spiritual force which can lift the soul of a tempted, sinful man to goodness, holiness, purity. Do not oppose science, but go beyond science, enter the spiritual world. Draw near to God and to His Christ, and then, when knowledge shall vanish away, you may be found doing the will of God, and so may abide for ever.

(J. F. Stevenson, LL.D.)

The Evangelist.
One of the most remarkable characteristics in these late times is a moving, roving disposition of mankind. A very great proportion of human beings are seen actuated by a restless impulse to go hither and thither. Impatience of the sameness of life, business, friendship, curiosity, the spirit of enterprise, religious zeal, are carrying multitudes in all directions. This consequence has necessarily followed — a very great increase of knowledge. We are not to regard this as wholly an improvement in the character of these our times. How many do it from no motive of seeking wisdom, or solid good of any kind! Some seem to "run to and fro" for the very purpose of attracting into themselves all the diversified vices and vanities anywhere to be found. A strong magnetism for the attrition of all congenial evil. But turn to the more favourable view of the subject. There has resulted a vast increase of knowledge, which may be of immense value and instruction.

1. Knowledge of the natural world, the whole order of nature on this globe.

2. The remains and monuments of ancient times. We have now a much more comprehensive information of the actual state and quality of the human race. We find that man is everywhere the same; but the human nature is miserably and horribly perverted and depraved.

3. Every extension of our geographical knowledge has enlarged and aggravated the hideous account of what we are to call religion among the human race. All this displays what man is. His reason is as perverted as his moral dispositions.

4. Knowledge reveals the sameness in all parts of the world of the operation in the mind of the converting Christian truth. Our increasing knowledge of this wide world should reader us more fit to live to good purpose in it, and at length to leave it.

(The Evangelist.)

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.)

These words lie in the very midst of a portion of Daniel's prophecy, which reiterates the glories of the Saviour's triumph over sin and Satan, and which proclaims the ineffable blessedness of the redeemed, as participating in the victory of the "Lord God Omnipotent," who shall then reign, His name being one, and His people one.

1. "Many shall run to and fro." At the time when the prophet uttered these words, the intercourse between men and nations was circumscribed to an extent, of which we, in these modern days, can have no conception. With Greece and Rome, as civilization advanced, the change became more marked and definite. Long after Christianity had prevailed, the transit from country to country was confined to the magnates of the earth. Who that estimates aright these times can fail to perceive that the literal accomplishment of Daniel's prophecy has begun? The untravelled man is now the exception to the rest of his fellows.

2. "Knowledge shall be increased." Much of the knowledge which now prevails upon comparatively indifferent subjects was enjoyed by the ancients, and made the subject of their ardent inquiry. Few in the present day are capable of closer reasoning than the learned of Greece and Rome; in literature they were certainly our equals, if not our superiors, and in their writings, still extant, we trace talents of the most transcendent order. But in all these instances, knowledge was confined to the few. And, after all, what was the knowledge even these possessed? It was "of the earth, earthy"; it was circumscribed and bounded by the trammels of time; it soared no higher than the sensual and the intellectual; it elevated no one to a perfect acquaintance with himself; it taught not the attributes of the one true God. The truths of the Gospel had to struggle for acceptance up to the fifteenth century. Since then the prophecy of Daniel has been remarkably fulfilled. While knowledge is increasing upon the earth, it ought not to be forgotten that God uses men as instruments for its diffusion.

(John Edmond Cox, M.A.)

I. THE MISSIONARY MOVEMENT IN PROGRESS. The knowledge that is to be increased is to "turn many to righteousness." This by imparting knowledge from God's Word and the Gospel of Christ. This is the work, the errand, of faithful missionaries abroad, this their message to Jew and. Gentile. Wherever men are turned to Christ, they will proceed to turn with abhorrence from the love and the practice of all unrighteousness and sin. Note their number; they are "many." Observe their activity; they "run." They are labourers, not loiterers. The promise of the text is not confined to ministers or missionaries. All friends and servants of Christ are included.

II. THE SUCCESS OF THE MOVEMENT. "Knowledge shall be increased." The knowledge by which "many shall be purified," etc. There shall be good success in the missionary movement faithfully made. Those "sent of God" shall not run in vain, nor labour in vain; though they may sometimes be discouraged. The prophecy is a promise, and like all the promises of God in Christ Jesus, it is true.

(John Hambleton, M.A.)

Our age realises the scene here predicted. This generation is pre-eminently migratory; men are everywhere on the move; a restless impulse has seized the world; and the fixed habits which bound our ancestors to their hearth are giving way. Different principles stimulate men in this incessant migration. The intellectual result of all these intermigrations is knowledge. Knowledge increases as men journey to distances and mingle with foreigners. Their knowledge of the physical world increases. Their knowledge of man increases. I shall use this necessary augmentation of knowledge as an argument for the necessity of propagating the Gospel.


1. Mere knowledge effects no radical change in the great principles of human character. The sources of all action are in the heart. Our likes and dislikes are our controlling impulses. Now does secular knowledge change the heart? Does it make a dishonest man honest, a selfish man generous, and a sensual man spiritual? Let the history of intelligent nations answer. Greece, Rome. Knowledge may induce and qualify a man to act out the evil principles of his heart in a more refined and less offensive manner. But you may multiply schools on every hand, fill the nation with secular knowledge, and still the springs of morals may remain as polluted as ever. Nothing but the Gospel can act upon the heart.

2. The more knowledge, the greater will be the power for evil. As the world grows in knowledge, it grows in power to trample upon the laws of God, to poison the fountains of influence, and to rebel against the interest of the universe. The power of the Devil. is the power of knowledge.

3. The more knowledge, the larger the amount of responsibility. Here, then, is my argument. If secular knowledge is destined to increase, if this knowledge has not the power to change the heart, whilst it increases man's power to do evil, and enhances his responsibility, ought not our earnestness in the propagation of the Gospel to rise with the increase of general intelligence?

II. THE MORE KNOWLEDGE THE WORLD HAS, THE MELEE LIKELY IS IT TO RECEIVE THE GOSPEL. We rejoice in the fact that the Gospel is suited to man in the lowest stage of development, but we contend that the more intelligent a man is the more favourable his condition for Gospel influence.

1. The more intelligent a man is the more evidence he will have to convince him of the truth of the Gospel.

2. The more illustrations he will have of the power of the Gospel.

3. The more indications he will see for the necessity of the Gospel.

4. The more fitted he will be to appreciate the discoveries of the Gospel. The more knowledge he has, the better will he be able to appreciate the wisdom of the scheme, the righteousness of the claims, and the adaptation of the provisions of the Gospel.(1) The character of the Gospel encourages this impression.(2) The effects of missionary labour encourage the impression.(3) The example of the first ministers of Christianity. They selected the most enlightened and influential parts of the world for their spheres of labour. From this subject we may learn the glory of the Gospel, and our encouragement to diffuse it.


Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.
I. AN END TO BE ACCOMPLISHED. "Knowledge shall be increased." The prophetical parts of Scripture describe a happier state of the world than has yet been witnessed; and this shall be introduced by an increase of knowledge.

1. The faculty which man has for acquiring knowledge forms the most obvious distinction of our species.

2. It is to the credit of the Christian religion that it is founded on knowledge.

3. The knowledge of God shall be increased. God is partially known by His works, but fully described in His Word. Experimental knowledge is necessary. This will lead us to love God; it will produce confidence in Him, and also obedience.

4. The knowledge of God will lead to the acquisition of useful knowledge of every kind. Religion enlarges the mind, illuminates the understanding, rectifies the judgment, and teaches men to think more clearly and more comprehensively on subjects of general science.

II. MEANS USED FOR ITS ACCOMPLISHMENT. "Many shall run to and fro." God works by agents and instruments.

1. The number of gospel ministers. In some periods of the world the advocates of truth have been reduced to a very small number; now they are many.

2. The prompt activity of ministers. Preaching is figured to us as running.

3. The sphere of ministers' operation. The world. Inferences:

(1)The great end of public preaching is to increase knowledge.

(2)How careful and diligent should ministers be in acquiring knowledge.

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

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