The is the second chapter in a book I’ve written called Hearing God. This is not an exhaustive study on dreams in the Bible, rather an introduction into the types of dreams which occur in the scriptures.
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Acts 2:17
Dreams and Interpretations
The other day a casual friend sat down next to me. He asked, “when are you getting ready to go?” “Are you packing?”. A very perplexed look came over my face. I was trying to remember if I had told him that we were going somewhere like for our anniversary or on a mission trip. But I had not conversed with him about my activities. He could tell I looked confused.
Then he said, “Did I have a conversation with you or did I just dream that you and Pam were leaving Tuscaloosa to go work with a big ministry up north?” It had to be a dream…no one has talked with us about joining a ministry up north or anywhere else. He then went on to explain about another dream that he had once about his boat sinking. When he woke up, he got a call from the marina that told him his boat was under water. So, was he trying to say that his dreams come true? And if they do, was I supposed to be looking for the fulfillment of this dream in my own life?
Dreams are highly subjective. In Acts 2, Peter says that we will be experiencing dreams as a testament to the movement of the Holy Spirit in the “last days”. Let’s look at several biblical characters and the purpose of dreams in their lives as well as the patterns that God may use in giving us dreams to hear from Him.
Confirming Words from God
The Genesis narrative is sometimes hard to follow because of how quickly the years move us through God’s dealings with his chosen people. For our purpose, the timeline is important for the first dream and vision recorded in the Bible. In Gen. 14, Abraham breaks bad in gathering his men for an elite type army rescue of his nephew Lot from invading Kings. Chapter 15 Abram and God renew God’s covenant about his descendants and land. In Chapter 16 Ishmael is born.
Could Abraham have thought that his descendants would come possibly through his nephew, Lot? In Chapter 15, God through a vision answers that question of Lot with “no way”. Abraham would have a personal child from his own seed. Then Abraham fell into a deep sleep. And though it does not say He dreamed…God talks with him about his future and the activity of his descendants while he was in this deep sleep.
HEARD WORD: God may confirm words which He has spoken to us while we are sleeping. The Genesis 15 Dream was to seal words already spoken for the plan of Abraham’s life and his descendants. This was an affirmation of what God had already revealed and spoken to Abram. The additional information was how he would die and how God would take care of his descendants to bring them back to the land that God had promised to Abram, but he did not yet possess.
Abram tried to interpret the dream with his own understanding and method. When Sarai suggested Abram have relations with Hagar….his dream and covenant actions with God, should have been reminders to tell Sarah an emphatic “NO!”. Instead, Abram thought Sarai’s idea was good. He slept with Hagar and Ishmael was born Genesis 16
HEARD WORD: Sometimes when God speaks, we jump ahead of God’s timing to make it “work” for us. Waiting on God, especially years of waiting, is one of the most difficult aspects of our lives in trusting God. God’s covenant with Abram extended generations beyond his physical life upon the earth.
Have you had dreams and impressions that confirmed your decisions? Did you share your dreams with another friend to discern if it was from God?
Dreams of Warning
*Abimelech in Genesis 20 was warned in a dream not to have relations with Sarai, Abram’s wife. Abram had lied and called Sarai his sister. Abimelech had taken her into his haram. The warning dream saved Sarai, Abimelech and Abraham.Genesis 20.
Laban was pursuing his son in law, because Jacob was taking his wives, children and possessions back to his father’s land. Before he could hurt Jacob, God warned Laban in a dream to keep his hands off of Jacob. Genesis 31:22-24 22 On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23 Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24 Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”
*Joseph, the husband of Mary, was warned in a dream of Herod’s intention to harm them, so he left immediately to go to Egypt to escape with the baby Jesus. for their lives
HEARD WORD: God can speak in dreams to warn us either to not do something foolish which may bring harm or to change directions to escape harm. The presence of the Holy Spirit can bring the same information to mind while we are awake and listening. In Joseph’s case, it is recorded that God communicated best to him in dreams.
Prophetic dreams – Joseph and Daniel
As a youth, Joseph had dreams about his brothers and father bowing down to worship him. Being the second youngest to 10 older brothers, this dream did not go over very well. At the end of his life, the dreams became true as Joseph was the second in command in Egypt and his brothers came to Joseph for food for survival.
HEARD WORD – God can share His revelations to younger children and teens. When Jacob heard Joseph’s second dream, the Bible records that he pondered what was shared. Jacob had his own dreams in his youth of angels descending and ascending on a ladder. Do not dismiss a child’s dreams because they are young.
*Joseph and Daniel interpreted the dreams of a Pharaoh and King. respectively. Neither ruler showed a belief or relationship with the God of Abram, Isaac and Jacob, yet God spoke to them in dreams of things to come. Both Joseph and Daniel were given the spiritual ability to interpret dreams. Both acknowledged that God knew all things and He would be the one to give them the interpretation. The Rulers recognized the interpretations as a true sign from God and realigned their actions in accordance with the dreams.
HEARD WORD – God can speak to non believing leaders in dreams and visions. It is important to pray for our leaders to discern what God may be saying to them about their rule and reign. Some warnings may be corrective such as Daniel’s interpretation of the statue being cut down and Nebechudnezzar’s exile due to insanity.
While in Africa on a mission trip, I had a dream that we would be involved in an accident, but no one would be hurt. I shared the dream with our team and we prayed for God’s protection. The next night I had a second dream which was very similar to the first with the added instruction of the need for us to leave the scene of the accident or harm would come to us.
A couple of days later, we were driving back to Dar es Salam in the night while it was raining. I was following another vehicle closely to shield the lights from the oncoming cars. He hit his brakes quickly as did I. I started hydroplaning and moving across the road to the oncoming traffic. Near the end of my stop, a man on a bike jumped off into the ditch while throwing his bike at my car.
When we exited the car it was pitch black, but we could hear lots of people just off the road. I was looking to see if I had hit the man. Our African host told us to get back in the car. He quickly drove us away. He told us if we had stayed the people would have hurt us to pay for the bike. I had not told him of the dreams.
Would you be willing for God to speak to you in dreams? Do you remember the dreams in the morning? Have a book nearby to record your dreams.
Dreams confirm God’s character and actions. He will never ask you to harm yourself or someone else. As in Abram’s case, dreams follow what God has already been saying to you.
There is no room for pride in having dreams. You are not more special nor given a higher authority because you had a dream from God. Joseph’s brothers were indignant partly because of Joseph’s arrogance that they would all bow down and worship him. Dreaming is one of the ways God speaks. The dream should still follow good interpretive analysis which align with God’s character and His ways.
I encourage you to ask God to speak to you in dreams and visions to confirm the words He has spoken. God is speaking in these “last days”. Are we listening?
Blessings Love y’all