Daniel 12:1-4 (ESV): “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 4 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.”
I remember hearing a sermon when I was a teenager, that referred to a time when travel and knowledge would increase and the resulting connection those things would have on the end times. You have probably heard a sermon based on this text and it’s likely that many of you may believe that this phrase, “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” comes from one of the Gospels. This passage is only found in the 12th chapter of Daniel just as God’s vision to Daniel is concluding.
Lately, I have been reading and studying about the signs at the end of the age. God has placed this study upon my heart and I have been reading and trying to fully understand the importance of these things for believers today. There are two reasons why this study is important to me: 1) it gives us as believers – hope! Paul, in Titus 2:13, reminds us of the “blessed hope” that we as believers have as we await the return of Christ, and 2) it should motivate us as followers of Christ to try and reach everyone who is not saved so that they will believe in Christ and not have to face the period of tribulation that is coming on those who do not believe.
Going back to the Daniel 12:4 text, we recognize that Michael is the archangel who is essentially the spiritual protector of Israel, God’s chosen people. Daniel’s prophecy reveals to us that, at the Great Tribulation, Michael will emerge (“shall stand up”) as he continues to wage spiritual battle for Israel. I believe that this period of tribulation will begin after the church has been taken away (raptured) and the last seven years of God’s dealing with Israel will begin.
In Daniel 9:26, we can understand that out of the 490 years that had been determined on Israel, 483 of those years ended at the Crucifixion of Christ. The 7 remaining years are believed to be the 7 years of Tribulation. At the beginning of the Tribulation, the Anti-Christ will emerge and will sign a peace treaty with Israel, that will only last for the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation. The second half of the Tribulation will unleash Satan’s fury against the Jewish people and the world will also see many judgements from God, making this period of history unlike any other.
Daniel 12:4 (ESV): “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.” Many of us only think of world knowledge when reading this passage but God also intended for it to include biblical knowledge. Remember in Daniel’s time, Daniel did not have any knowledge of the Church Age, he could only recognize what God had revealed to him and the Church Age was not a part of Daniel’s understanding. In our day and time however, God has opened up our understanding of Biblical knowledge, as we are on the other side of the cross, in comparison to Daniel and his contemporaries. We are able to more fully discern scripture and its meaning that the people of Daniel’s time simply could not understand.
In his book, The Final Generation, Mike Evans writes (p.48): “When a vision of the end times was given to Daniel in the last three chapters of his book, he was told to seal it up for the generation in which “many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4). No generation in the history of the world has traveled so much or seen knowledge increase so quickly as ours. Today, we can be anywhere in the world in hours and have even stepped from Earth to the moon within days. What humanity knows, is inventing, or is discovering is increasing at an exponential rate. Literally anything you want to know in the world is accessible through a few keystrokes or clicks of a mouse.” Evans make a valid point that we are certainly living in the age where knowledge is increasing at an incredible rate.
Daniel 12:3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. This verse is perhaps the most important to me as I continue to study end time prophecy. While scripture tells us that we should pay attention to the signs of the end of the age, our most important focus should be to bring those who are lost to belief in Christ. That is the assignment that Jesus gave to his disciples as he ascended into heaven and that same mission is ours today. God doesn’t want anyone to suffer the wrath that will be poured out onto this earth during the Tribulation and it is our duty as followers of Christ to do our part to save as many as possible. And as we lead unbelievers to righteousness, we are given the promise that we “shall shine…like the stars forever and ever.” We will live in the presence of God in heaven, and will receive our reward for being faithful to our calling, while living out our time on earth.
Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 NIV.