In the last chapter of the book of Daniel, a holy angel told God’s prophet:
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 (Daniel 12:4).
This verse should be closely examined. After receiving numerous dreams and visions, Daniel was told to “shut up the words” and “seal the book.” The “words” referred to are the words of God—communicated through angels—which were given to Daniel in dreams and visions. These words were eventually written down to become the book of Daniel itself. Both the words and the book were to be shut up and sealed, which means that some of these prophecies would not be fully understood “until the time of the end.” In the time of the end, the book of Daniel and its end-time prophecies would be unsealed, opened, and unlocked for all the world to see.
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Here it is “the eyes of the Lord” that “run to and fro.” Comparing Scripture with Scripture, we discover that in Daniel 12:4 the angel meant that as the eyes of men, women, and children dart back and forth over the words of God that have previously been locked up and sealed, something wonderful happens—“knowledge shall increase.” The reason knowledge increases is because in “the time of the end” increasing numbers of humans will have the unprecedented opportunity—previously unavailable to former generations—to read for themselves and to understand the words of God.
“The time of the end” is not the end of the world but rather refers to a unique time period before the end, leading up to it. It’s also a time when millions of searching souls are given an unprecedented opportunity to learn the Word of God, which will help them prepare for “the end.” In Daniel 12:4, the stated sign that we have entered “the time of the end” is that “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Those three words—knowledge shall increase—are about to lead us into an amazing journey.
From the days of “Adam to Moses” (Rom. 5:14), God communicated with humans through direct revelations that were then verbally passed down from generation to generation. None of those revelations—as far as we know—were written down. Thus, in those ancient days there was no such thing as a Bible. After God called Moses to be His prophet and to bring Israel out of Egypt (see Exod. 1–4), He later led Moses to write the history of Creation Week, the Fall, Noah and the Flood, and many other events that we can now read about in the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
God later inspired different prophets and Bible writers to fill out what is referred to as the Old Testament. After the long-awaited appearance of the Messiah, the Holy Spirit also led Matthew, Mark, Luke, Peter, James, Paul, and Jude to record the critical events in the life of Jesus Christ and of His early Church. The last Bible writer, John, whose writings include the book of Revelation, brought an end to what has become the New Testament.
Moses started writing around 1400 B.C., and John finished his writings around A.D. 96. Thus, the total period of Bible writing was about 1,500 years. Yet throughout that entire time there were no printing presses or copy machines or any of the hi-tech gadgets we now have today. Thus, every page of the Bible (or parts of the Bible) was painstakingly copied—word for word, line by line, book by book—by human hands.
It was a very slow and careful process.
Thus, for a long, long time—for most of human history—there were not many Bibles in existence. During some periods, such as during the Dark Ages, there were only a few copies of God’s Book anywhere on earth. Not only that, but many people couldn’t read anyway, so even if they happened to obtain a copy or portion of God’s Word, to them it was largely “sealed” or locked up. Plus, to purchase a Bible was expensive. Few people ever actually set their eyes on an entire Bible. And if they did, it probably didn’t belong to them, or it was locked up in a language they couldn’t understand, so they couldn’t read it.
Such a state continued until around A.D. 1436 when a German businessman, Johannes Gutenberg, invented the printing press with movable type. Can you guess what was the first book Mr. Gutenberg printed? It was a Bible. Due to this history-altering invention, slowly but surely copies of God’s sacred Word began to multiply, and the process of translating the Bible into different languages also increased.
Still, for hundreds of years progress was slow. Then, in the late 1700s and early 1800s, things sped up exponentially through the formation of British, European, and American Bible societies wholly dedicated to translating, publishing, and distributing affordable copies of God’s Book. Since then, the sacred work of bringing Bibles to the masses has steadily advanced.