Many Shall Run To and Fro (Daniel 12:4)
by Larry Cockerham
Many Shall Run To and Fro
By Larry Cockerham
The Hebrew word for "run" שׁוּט (shu^ṭ) literally means to "push forth." When it is used in Scripture it has a figurative meaning; that is, "to lash at the ocean" or "to lash at the sea with oars" implying travel. Our society has moved from riding horses for thousands of years to riding in automobiles and airplanes in the last one hundred years. Daniel 12:4b tells us "knowledge shall be increased." The Hebrew word for "increase" רבה (ra^ba^h) implies not only an addition of knowledge, but also a multiplication or a knowledge that is increasing exponentially. This is so much of an exact prophecy that knowledge is now presently doubling every twenty-two months. But when it comes to the knowledge of God we may very well be decreasing. Paul told Timothy that in the last days many would be "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7).
One of the largest firms today that deals in computer chips and modern technology is Scientific Atlanta. One of their scientists gives us an example of how knowledge is increasing: "The advance from the vacuum tube to the transistor to the computer chip has resulted in a one-million-fold improvement in productivity over 40 years. The power of computer chips will multiply one-million-fold over a ten-year period. This means a one-trillion-fold increase in productivity after the year 2000."
Even in Dr. H.A. Ironside's day there was an acute awareness of the increase in knowledge. He speaks of this interesting phenomenon in his commentary, Lectures on Daniel the Prophet:
Could anything more aptly set forth the chief characteristics of these last days? Men seem to have a perfect mania for traveling from place to place; and human inventions of all kinds are pressed into service to accelerate and make comfortable those who run to and fro. Coupled with this we have the ever-widening diffusion of the productions of the press, so that knowledge of all kinds is indeed increased. May we not see in these things one evidence that we have almost reached the special prophetic period denominated as the "Time of the End"?1
A secondary meaning of this verse has to do with an inordinate fascination for knowledge concerning latter day predictions concerning the Lord's return. According to many Bible scholars this is truly the case. Lehman Strauss states: "Knowledge of the book of Daniel is increasing and will continue to increase among the true believers in Christ, and this will be followed by the same increase of knowledge among Jewish believers in the tribulation."2 Walvoord states that "in the Hebrew the word for "knowledge" is hadda'at, literally, "the knowledge," that is, understanding of this long prophecy. Some consider the sentence as referring to the eyes of a reader running "to and fro" in reading the Word of God (cf. 2 Chr 16:9)."3 William MacDonald strongly supports the secondary meaning when he states, "it teaches that many will study the prophetic Word and knowledge of it shall increase in the Great Tribulation."4
About the Author:
Larry Cockerham is pastor of a Southern Baptist church in the Southeastern United States. He has a Master of Theology degree from Andersonville Seminary in Camilla, Georgia, and is presently working on an ebook about the Book of Revelation. His first book was Revelation: Prophetic Addresses to the Seven Churches written in 1995. He also is editor of Prophecy Forum Newsletter, a monthly ezine containing Bible studies, news headlines, and a column by Jerry Golden. Please visit
his website at http://prophecyforum.com
1H.A. Ironside, Lectures On Daniel the Prophet (Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1911), 233-34.
2Lehman Strauss, The Prophecies of Daniel (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1969), 362.
3John Walvoord, Daniel: The Key To Prophetic Revelation (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1971), 291-92.
4William MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), 1091
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