Aug 4, 2008

Q & A

By Ed Hindson

Q: Why did Daniel's prophecy of the four empires skip the Parthian Empire? Is it because they were not prophetically important as far as Israel was concerned?

A: We frequently receive questions such as this regarding other empires that have come and gone through history in addition to the four mentioned in Daniel. The suggestion that the Parthians did not have direct dealings with Israel might have merit, but many other empires throughout history were not mentioned in Daniel's vision either. Some of them, such as the Ottoman and British empires, did have direct dealings with Israel by exerting control over that land. Other empires belonged to a number of nations in Europe (such as France and Spain) and the Far East. Even the Soviet Union, at the height of its power could be said to have had an "empire" with its many "satellite" nations - some of which were invaded by the Soviets when they did not stay in line.

As we know, only four major world empires are mentioned in Daniel. They are mentioned first in Chapter 2, in which Daniel recalls King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great image. It consisted of the head of gold (Babylon); chest and arms of silver (Medo-Persia); belly and thighs of brass (Greece); legs of iron (Rome); and feet part of iron and part of clay (a revived Roman Empire). In Daniel Chapter 7, Daniel has a similar dream in which these empires are represented by animals. A lion represents Babylon; a bear denotes Medo-Persia; a leopard symbolizes Greece; and a fourth, terrible beast indicates Rome.

The important common thread of the four empires mentioned in Daniel is that each had control over the land of Israel during the time that each had hegemony of world prominence. Each was also unchallenged in its power. Other nations and empires might have coexisted with them, but could not even hope to attempt to conquer them. In fact, three of the empires of Daniel were only conquered by their immediate successors - Babylon by Medo-Persia; Medo-Persia by Greece; and Greece by Rome.

Though Rome also fell, many analysts feel that it only lies dormant, ready to come alive again in the last days. And Rome has indeed had a few attempted revivals throughout the years. The Holy Roman Empire of the Middle Ages was a case in point. Hitler's attempt to put Europe under his control was another. Today, we have the EU, attempting to link Europe with common laws, currencies and trade. When the timing is right according to God's timetable, Rome is likely to again play a prominent role in the events of the prophetic scenario.