The Language of Dreams

Have you ever had a dream you knew was from God? What about a vision? Are you aware you should be expecting dreams from God every night?

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 today have not been taught to expect 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, between you and me, 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.

That is what I am trying to tell you. His Spirit apparently likes to communicate to those 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 priests, 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’” (Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17)! And beloved reader, He isn’t just giving dreams to men, but as 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 actually 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 you. He wants and deserves to be your Everything.

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, they are always 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 your 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 your 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 a solid, trusted resource, I want to recommend a book I’ve recently come across, Hearing God Through Your Dreams: Understanding the Language God Speaks at Night, by Dr. Mark Virkler and Charity Virkler Kayembe. It is an excellent primer to learning how God communicates in dreams, for deciphering the very personal symbols He uses in the dreams of each of His children.

The Virklers are ‘charismatic’, though their book on dreams barely acknowledges it. Remember, God is pouring His Spirit out ‘upon all flesh, i.e., literally, the entire body’ (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!

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Purposes of Dreams and Visions in the Bible

God used dreams and visions many times in both Old and New Testaments, for many purposes. He gave them to rulers, prophets, apostles, and to ordinary people like you and me!

In one sense, all dreams or visions are a source of knowledge and revelation, for different purposes. The most important of all, to identify His Son. Among the other reasons He used them were to give promises, calling and anointing, comfort, direction, and visions of heaven.

While not intended to be an exhaustive list, see references below with many of the ways visions or dreams were used in Scripture.

Genesis 15:1 God uses a vision to give Abram covenant/promise of protection and reward, that he would be a father and the father of many nations. Promise/Revelation (of Future Events)

Genesis 20:3-7 Through a dream given to King Abimelech, God protected Sarah and Abraham by revealing her identity to the King and telling him not to touch her. Knowledge (of current situation)/Warning

Genesis 28:10-17 God reveals to Jacob in a dream that Abraham’s blessing would be carried on through him. Promise

Genesis 37:1-11 Joseph dreamed of his future success and ministry. Promise/Revelation

Genesis 40 Joseph, in prison, had dreams of the fates of Pharoah’s cupbearer and baker. Knowledge/Revelation

Genesis 41:1-7 God gave Pharaoh a prophetic dream about the future difficulties of his nation. Warning/Revelation

Genesis 46:2-4 God called Jacob/Israel thru visions. Calling (to ministry)

Exodus 3:2-22 God revealed Himself and His plans for Israel within a burning bush to Moses. Direction/Knowledge

Judges 7:13-15 God gave a dream to a man Gideon met, (the barley loaf tumbling into their enemies’ camp and knocking a tent over flat) a symbolic promise of victory in battle. Promise/Revelation

1 Samuel 3:2-15 Samuel had a vision of the coming judgment upon the sons of Eli (Samuel’s mentor). Samuel proclaimed the info to Eli, and continued to hear from God the rest of his life. Knowledge/Revelation

1 Kings 3:5-14 God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked what blessing Solomon wished from Him. (Solomon asked for wisdom.) Anointing (to rule)/Blessing

Job 4:13-27 Job sees perhaps an angel of the Lord pass in front of his face in the night. The being brings him much wisdom and promise of long life from God.  Promise/Wisdom

Isaiah 6:1-13 Isaiah sees a vision of the Lord on His throne surrounded by angels, being worshipped and receives a revelation of the future. Revelation/Vision of Heaven

Ezekiel 1 and 8 Ezekiel sees visions of beings coming from the heavens in fire and of God’s glory, visions of future things… Revelation

Ezekiel 11:24-25 God took Ezekiel in Spirit by vision to speak to the exiles in Chaldea. He told the exiles all the Lord showed him. Ministry Direction

Ezekiel 37:1-14 The Lord showed Ezekiel future events. Revelation

Daniel 2:19 Daniel was given interpretation of mysteries in night visions. Knowledge/Wisdom

Daniel 2:28 Daniel reveals the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of future events. Revelation

Amos 7:1-9 God showed Amos the coming destruction of the nation in the form of locusts swarming toward the crops of the King, devouring all the vegetation. Warning/Revelation

Amos 8:1-3 God showed Amos He would spare His people no longer, that the end had come for them. Warning/Revelation

Amos 9 Amos saw the Lord declaring the beginning of the destruction upon His people. Warning/Revelation

Zechariah – The prophet was given many visions of the future in fantastic, symbolic analogies. Revelation

Matthew 1:20 God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream to convince him to stay with Mary. Direction/Wisdom

Matthew 2:12 God warns the Magi in a dream not to return to Herod, to leave another way for their country. Warning

Matthew 2:13 God warns Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus to avoid Herod’s decree. Warning

Matthew 27:19 Pilate’s wife has a dream that Pilate should have nothing to do with the condemnation of Christ. Warning

Luke 1:11-17 God tells Zacharias in a vision that he will have an important son (John the Baptist). Promise/Revelation

Acts 9:3-6 Saul has a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus that brings him to salvation and begins his ministry. Calling

Acts 9:10-12 God instructs Ananias in a vision to go visit Saul/Paul. Ministry Direction

Acts 10:3-6 God spoke to Italian centurion, Cornelius, telling him to find Paul. Cornelius obeyed and his whole house was saved. Calling/Direction

Acts 10:11-16 Peter sees a vision and God gave him instruction about killing animals, even those formerly considered unclean, to eat them, that God had cleansed them. This represented a big change in God’s rules to His people, a removal of Kosher law and indication the Gentiles coming to Christ would be considered clean. Direction/Revelation

Acts 16:9 Paul has a vision of a Macedonian man asking him to come help them. Ministry Direction

Acts 18:9-10 The Lord comforts Paul in a vision urging him to not be silent, nor afraid to speak, to keep preaching in Corinth. Comfort/Ministry Direction

Acts 22:18-21 God warns Paul to leave the town for lack of acceptance of his testimony, and gives him new direction for ministry. Warning/Ministry Direction

Acts 27:23-24 An angel of the Lord appears to Paul and reveals he will appear before Caesar and his shipmates will be with him – which also lets them know they will all survive the tempest they were suffering aboard ship. Comfort/Direction/Revelation

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 God shows the 3rd heaven to a man, per Paul’s testimony. Vision of Heaven

Revelation 1-22 God gives John an extensive vision about future events to come for the world and God’s people! Revelation

 

Sources used for compiling list of verses:
1. How did God use dreams and visions in the Bible? https://www.gotquestions.net/Printer/dreams-visions-Bible-PF.html
2. 39 Bible verses about Visions and Dreams in Scripture  https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Visions-And-Dreams-In-Scripture