Someone needs to call attention frankly to a common misapplication of Daniel 12:4—that indulged in by the majority of our preachers and writers, some thoughtlessly and some knowingly. This arises, innocently enough, because the phrasing of the text—"many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased"—very aptly portrays the marvelous increase of intellectual, scientific, and mechanical knowledge in these undeniably last days, and the unprecedented development of rapid transportation and world-encompassing communication facilities in this "time of the end" period.
These mechanical factors, as we all know, have their indispensable part in facilitating the rapid heralding of God's last message to the world of humanity. These material wonders are indeed the marvels of the age—and the end thereof is not yet. But, these are not the subject of the prophetic depiction in Daniel 12 :4. The clear intent of the original, the inescapable point of the context, and the inspired comments of the Spirit of prophecy, all indicate that this refers to a running to and fro in the prophetic Word, a searching for and an understanding of its intent, and an increase in the knowledge of that Word. It refers to the great revival in prophetic interpretation under the simultaneous advent awakening of the nineteenth century, in both the Old World and the New, meeting its consummation in the distinctive threefold message.
Notwithstanding the common application of the text to intellectual and inventive knowledge, such is clearly unjustifiable and unsound. It is following the flair of the popular preacher in the nominal church who takes an expressive phrase of scripture as a keynote, but often one without any true application or actual relation to his theme, and in violation of all the principles of exegetical interpretation. This perversion of the intent of Scripture should not be followed by the heralds of the advent movement. Our expositions should always he sound and pertinent. The clear application in "The Great Controversy" is :
"That part of his [Daniel's] prophecy which related to the last days, Daniel was bidden to close up and seal 'to the time of the end.' Not till we reach this time could a message concerning the judgment be proclaimed, based on a fulfillment of these prophecies. But at the time of the end, says the prophet, 'many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.'"
"In that very Daniel, where it is said that the woras were shut up to the time of the end (which was the ease In his time), and that 'many shall run to and fro' (a Hebrew expression for observing and thinking upon the time), 'and knowledge' (regarding that time) 'shall be increased.' Dan. 12
Pages 356, 360.
The increase of intellectual, scientific, and mechanical knowledge is one of the outstanding characteristics of these tremendous times. And along with its fostering of evil, it has been employed to extend the gospel to all mankind. But that is not the subject of discussion in Daniel 12:4. There is need for reform on this specific point, in the use of this text.
It is both proper and desirable that there should be precision of belief and of practice in the minor things—the tithing of the mint, the anise, and the curnatin. One should have definite convictions on details of obligation and conduct, as well as on those larger principles that govern the very springs of life, and should live in conscientious accordance therewith.
But we should never forget the divinely recorded balance fixed by our Master between meticulous fidelity to external details, and those weightier matters—justice, mercy, and truth—which transcend all else. These comprehend the fundamentals of relationship to God and man, and are the standard by which God judges man.
The Jewish religious leaders placed emphasis upon the wrong things, because they were primarily concerned about those things. In their extravagant regard for the minutise of ordinances clustered about the Sabbath, they missed the very spirit, blessing, and objective of the Sabbath, and were without rest from sin, for they had never experienced the recreative power of which it is the eternal sign and symbol. They were greatly agitated over the letter of Sabbathkeeping, while at the same time they were plotting against the life of the Lord of the Sabbath. And having contrived His murder, they were extremely solicitous about the bodies of the crucified remaining on the cross over the Sabbath. Yet they had brazenly murdered the Lamb of God, trampling mercy, mocking truth, and making a farce of justice.
Of course it is easy to see these fundamental inconsistencies and mistakes in the historic church of the old dispensation. Bat the Master's principles are timeless in application. They preclude high profession coupled with some nullifying practice that crucifies a basic principle. Both the lesson and the underlying principle are worthy of prayerful study. We must not fail as they failed.
L. E. F.