Have you ever had a dream you knew was from God? What about a vision? Did you know many, if not all of the people of God should be expecting dreams from God regularly?
If you are not aware of having dreams and visions from the Lord, you are not alone. While I have not taken a poll, I would venture to guess the majority of God’s people in America today have not been taught about dream messages or visions from God.
I grew up in a very traditional church environment, and I can guarantee you I never heard the first word about dream fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
In fact, when the concept was first presented to me, I recoiled in unbelief. But then I started listening to Biblical reasoning, examined the Scriptures and found the plain and clear precedent.
“I will reveal Myself in visions, I will speak in dreams.” Numbers 12:6
“I was asleep but my spirit was awake, listen my Beloved is knocking.” Solomon 5:2
“For God speaks once, yes twice, [yet man] perceives it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumber upon the bed; Then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.” Job 33:14-16
Ok. So God expected His people to know He would talk to them in dreams in the Old Testament. And those ancient saints understood the language of dreams. Listen in to this passage where Joseph shared his (unwelcome) dream with his family:
“And (Joseph) dreamed another dream: I have dreamed the sun, moon and the eleven stars bowed down to me. He told [it] to his father, and to his brothers: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What [is] this dream that you dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow down to you to the ground?” Genesis 37:9-10
Jacob immediately understood the symbols in his son’s dream! He knew the language! The passage goes on to say he made note of the dream and watched for it’s significance with expectation.
How did so many of God’s people lose this understanding over the centuries? I can hear the scholars now. “Well, in ancient times God needed to use dreams because we didn’t have the written Scriptures.” That sounds reasonable.
But in the New Testament, when they did have the Hebrew Scriptures (and were taught them at temple), He continued to speak through dreams.
In the Gospels, He spoke to Joseph and the Magi (Matthew 2), and to Pilate’s wife (Matt 27).
You say, ok, but what about after the death and Resurrection of Christ? Surely, we didn’t need dreams then, because we had His Spirit in addition to the Scriptures.
This is what I am trying to tell you. His Spirit apparently likes to communicate to many of us whom He indwells, among other ways, through dreams! Keep reading.
After the Resurrection, God continued to use dreams and visions. He spoke to Saul and Ananias in Acts 9. He spoke to Cornelius and also to Peter in Acts 10, to Paul (formerly Saul) in Acts 16.
It doesn’t take much research to realize God continued to use dreams in the New Testament church the same way He had before Christ! The last book of the New Testament, the entire book of Revelation, was a dream/vision revelation of God to John for His people.
Dreams and visions from God never stopped. He spoke through them to the ancient Hebrews and to His followers in the New Testament. They are still valid today!
But, wait, you say, are Holy Spirit dreams for everyone, or just prophets, pastors and leaders?
In Judges 7, Gideon only overheard the dream of a random villager in a town where Gideon’s army was planning to attack, and he understood it to be a promise of victory from God (and it was)! God used an ordinary person to deliver that dream message.
Both Old and New Testaments tell us, in the latter days the Spirit will pour Himself out upon all of His body, and young men will see visions, old men will dream dreams, and on my servants and my handmaidens will I pour out My Spirit. (Joel 2:28-29 and Acts 2:17-18)! The verses literally mean, “to all of His body”, to women, children, to all of His people!
Dreams are a method God uses to help us work through our thoughts and emotions, our life challenges, and most importantly, to deepen our trust and relationship with Him.
Honestly, when I first began realizing what was happening in my dreams, it felt like a loving psychologist was giving me insight into myself. That gave me pause because I’ve come on so many levels to disrespect the secular field of psychology, perhaps ironic since I am a trained counselor with a Masters degree.
In learning about dreams, I thought, could God really be acting like my personal counselor every night? This feels self-indulgent, and too much like ‘psychology’. Most often, I’m trying to control my emotions during the day and not dwell on them. And I thought that was pleasing to Him.
Then the Lord reminded me of one of His names right out of Scripture: Wonderful Counselor!
He is the greatest Counselor in existence! He wants us to bring our emotions, thoughts, all of it, to Him, not to deny or avoid them. He then offers us His wisdom and guidance, His wise counseling, not only through His Word, but directly from His Spirit, and often in our dreams! What a deal. Free of charge!
Well, the price was His Son on a Cross and our trust in Him for forgiveness and salvation, right? With that profound purchase came this amazing, intimate walk with Him that continues even when we sleep! His promised Comforter comes alongside us and walks us through every challenge, every experience, thought and emotion. Yes, He wants that close of a friendship with us. He wants and deserves to be our Everything.
Later, I would realize my dreams contained prophecies, for try as I might, I couldn’t apply them to anything in my personal life, but would see them play out in outside events around me. [Apr 2020 update: Eventually, I would begin seeing them apply to all of America. Check out post about COVID-19 on April 7, 2020, for starters.]
At times, I’ve felt like Lucy Pevensie, trying to convince her brothers and sister that Narnia is real. It IS real, friends. And Narnia is a great analogy. Through dreams, the Holy Spirit takes us to another world where everything symbolically means something else, and the truth discovered there is powerful! Will you trust Him, and your sister who always tells the truth?
The time is now. It is time God’s people once again learn the language of dreams from Him. Daniel understood the language of dreams. Jacob understood dreams. Peter, Paul, John, and other New Testament followers understood the Spirit’s involvement in their dreams. We must follow in their footsteps.
Take comfort, dreams do not replace Scripture, and dreams from the Lord will not contradict Scripture. Dreams are most often personal for the dreamer and not usually revelations about other people, except as may relate to our areas of responsibility in ministry. Sometimes they are prophetic. Under and above all, for the surrendered, Spirit-filled believer they are wise, because they come from the all-wise God.
I pray all of my traditional brothers and sisters, like me, will allow the Spirit of the Lord to whisper truth into our soul. Review Scripture and recognize the presence of God’s use of dreams throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Then, allow Him to begin our dream education.
For those black and white traditionalists (as I once was) who stubbornly think God only speaks through the written word, recognize: It is the written word telling us that our Creator talks to us in dreams! Will we continue to doubt?
To offer all wanting more information solid, trusted resources, I want to recommend two books I’ve recently come across: Dream Language, by Dr. James W. Goll, and Hearing God Through Your Dreams: Understanding the Language God Speaks at Night, by Dr. Mark Virkler and Charity Virkler Kayembe.
Begin with Dream Language, and then follow with Hearing God… These are excellent primers to learn how God communicates in dreams, for deciphering the very personal symbols He uses in the dreams of His children. While reading these, study the major dreams in Scripture (to get you started, see post, Purposes of Dreams and Visions in the Bible).
Remember, God is pouring His Spirit out upon ‘all flesh’, which in the original language, means the entire body of His family (Acts 2:17). No matter our church denomination, we must open our eyes and ears to Biblical truth from all Spirit-filled corners of Biblical faith.
For the body to be strong and ready to meet the challenges of the future, we must accept each others’ place and gifts as part of His plan and purpose, and work together to encourage and train His people.
Finally, when I began learning to interpret His symbolic dream lessons to me, this powerful truth hit me:
God spoke to His people in ancient Israel through dream symbolism. When Jesus taught in symbolic parables, those who had always known His Spirit must have recognized His style. They followed Him, in part, because they already knew His voice!
“My sheep know My voice, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
Are you ready to continue the journey? You won’t be disappointed!