The DEEP

Genie God

He's not like that.

Daniel 4:13–18

“I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. He cried aloud and said thus:

‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches,
Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit.
Let the beasts get out from under it,
And the birds from its branches.
Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth,
Bound with a band of iron and bronze,
In the tender grass of the field.
Let it be wet with the dew of heaven,
And let him graze with the beasts
On the grass of the earth.
Let his heart be changed from that of a man,
Let him be given the heart of a beast,
And let seven times pass over him.

‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers,
And the sentence by the word of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men,
Gives it to whomever He will,
And sets over it the lowest of men.’

“This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”

This is curious. Why did all the wise men decline to interpret the dream? They’re experts in the art of baloney; it’s their day job. Cat got your tongue, guys? Daniel saving their necks the last time must have had immense impact. Oh, to be a fly on the wall! I’d love to hear how they processed that.

Apologetics isn’t normally the key to evangelism, but this is an exception. Something opened their minds.


Nebuchadnezzar’s confidence in Daniel is curious too. Daniel never claimed to be able to interpret all dreams. He gave the credit for the last one to God; he didn’t say that he could do it again. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego also made it clear that they can’t predict what God will do.

This is an essential spiritual lesson that Nebuchadnezzar hasn’t learned—God isn’t our servant. Even though he has a unique respect for the god of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, Nebuchadnezzar still sees Him through a polytheistic lens. He thinks Daniel can just snap his fingers and God will show up like the genie in Aladdin.

He’s not that kind of God.


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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.