“Many shall run to and fro …”
THE MODERN MEANS of communication and transportation that have made it possible for the Gospel to now be preached in all nations bring to mind another specific prediction regarding Endtime conditions. In 534 B.C., the prophet Daniel received an outstanding revelation. Afterwards, God told him not to worry that he couldn’t understand it all, that even though the prophecy was given to him, it wasn’t for him. It’s only been in recent years that the Book of Daniel has been opened. The Lord told Daniel:
“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” (Daniel 12:4).
Many running to and fro literally means “speeding about, here and there,” or as The Living Bible renders this verse, “travel shall be greatly increased.”
When you consider that people’s means of transportation – horse and buggy, wagons, camels, sailboats, etc. – did not change substantially for thousands of years, you can appreciate the significance of this prophecy.
In 1789 it took George Washington eight days to travel the 200 miles from his home to his inauguration in New York City. The fact that it took eight days is not significant. What is noteworthy is that Julius Caesar could have made the same trip just as rapidly in the year 50 B.C.! No real progress had been made in transportation over the many centuries that passed between their lifetimes. But look how mankind has advanced in just the past century!
Today we not only drive at enormous speeds and cover great distances in our automobiles, but a jet can fly around the world in 24 hours, and a spacecraft circles the planet in 80 minutes.
The number of people traveling today is absolutely unprecedented. At the 1995 annual meeting of travel industry executives gathered in Singapore for the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), John Naisbitt, economic forecaster and author of Megatrends 2000, underscored how the largest industry in the world is now the one which enables people to “run to and fro”:
Travel and tourism is the biggest and the most energetic industry in the world. It will be one of the three super-industries driving the (global) economy of the next century, along with Information Technology and Telecommunications.
This year, travel and tourism is forecast to generate U.S.$3.4 trillion in gross product, accounting for 10 percent of global economic output, consumer spending and investment.
Pierre Jeanniot, director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said during the celebration of IATA’s 50th anniversary, that IATA companies carried 1.2 billion passengers on all services in 1995 – equivalent to one in five of the world’s population.
The Madrid-based World Tourism Organization forecasts that the present number of tourists on the move worldwide will double by 2010. The organization’s secretary general, Antonio Savignac, said, “We’re looking at almost a billion international arrivals by the year 2010 but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Domestic tourism, people traveling within their own country, could be 10 times that.”
One reason that many people today travel to distant lands, particularly young people, is because they’re dissatisfied with their own country, culture or religion, and are searching for solutions or answers elsewhere. These truth-seekers and pilgrims bring to mind another prophecy about the last days, given by the Old Testament prophet Amos: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord God, ‘that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord’” (Amos 8:11-12).
In all of world history people have never traveled the distances, the speeds, nor with the frequency that billions are traveling today. Truly many are running to and fro, just like God said they would in the “time of the end.”