The first empire seen in the vision is Medo-Persia. The man
in the vision is the preincarnate Christ and the vision begins
with Medo-Persia’s first year as a world empire. The man
rapidly moves through its future to arrive at the vision’s
second world empire, which is Greece. Keep in mind the great
conflict over the dominion of Israel, which is taking place in
the background of this vision. In this part of the vision,
only the visible, earthly events are revealed.
Verse 1: Interestingly, Christ reveals that He
supported and protected Darius the Mede in 539 B.C. The
rapid and smooth transfer of Babylon to Persia was God’s
doing, not man’s. This revelation is a reminder that God
controls what follows in the rise of these two empires.
Verse 2: This vision occurred during the reign of Cyrus
the Great and three more kings who were Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis,
and Darius Hystaspis. The fourth monarch was Xerxes, also
known as Ahasuerus. The opening chapters of the book of
Esther record King Xerxes’ fabulous wealth and the great
banquet that he employed, as a pretext, to stir up his
guests against Greece.
Xerxes’ expedition against Greece failed miserably in
480 B.C., and apparently, the king’s attendants proposed
that a search be made for beautiful young virgins to
soothe the king’s anger and depression. Esther was chosen
queen as God worked behind the scenes. Interestingly,
Mordecai said to his niece when the genocide of the Jews
was decreed, “And who knows but that you have come to a
royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 3:14).
God knows, and He orchestrates, the rise and fall of
rulers for His purposes and that is the way we are to view
Verses 3-4: Since this prophecy touches on major events
and characters, it jumps over nearly 150 years to the time
of the Ram and the Goat. The mighty king who does as he
pleases is Alexander the Great. In 336 B.C., Alexander
came to the throne of Greece and Macedonia. He had only
35,000 soldiers to start the war with Persia, while the
Persian king had hundreds of thousands of soldiers besides
a great navy. Nevertheless, in thirteen years Alexander
conquered the whole of the Persian Empire and beyond. He
literally did “as he pleased,” fulfilling this prophecy.
Alexander’s empire was parceled out toward the four
winds, and to four generals who were not his descendants:
Ptolemy (Egypt); Antigonus (Babylon, North Syria);
Lysimachus (Thrace, Bithynia); and Cassander (Macedonia).
Naturally, the divided Greek Empire resulted in diminished
power, but division did not diminish its influence on the
society and culture over the next three hundred years.