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
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