The DEEP

Targeted Teaching

He's always up to something.

Daniel 4:23–27

“And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its 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 of the field, till seven times pass over him’; this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.

“And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

This is different from the last dream in three important ways.

First, the last dream foretold mostly normal events. Kingdom’s come and go. But this time, the dream interpretation is so bizarre that it’s hard to understand exactly what Daniel’s describing.

Second, there’s no way that Nebuchadnezzar can live to see the previous dream fulfilled. This one, though, will happen to him personally—with great emotional impact.

Lastly, Daniel gives explicit instructions for how these events can be prevented. Last time, Nebuchadnezzar invented a nutty scheme of his own to try to change the future.

These three differences combine to make this dream the foundation for better targeted teaching.


We receive similarly better targeted teaching through answered prayer. We pour our hearts out, sometimes in anguish, and thus we pay attention to His response. We learn by seeing, “the footprints of an unseen hand.”

This is where reformed doctrine helps by tying all the pieces together. Our growth in Christ is more important than pain avoidance. Otherwise, why the cross?

God foreordains the trials that drive us to our knees. He has an agenda based on higher purposes. Those purposes are more important than whatever’s commanding our attention.

Adjusting to His priorities can be painful, but it’s helpful to know that they are there. Sometimes we get to see what God is up to; sometimes we don’t.

But He’s always up to something.


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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.