Interpreting Dreams and Visions – Part 2

November 15, 2004

We have established last time that our spirits are talking to us when we dream. Since the Holy Spirit of God lives in our spirit after we become a believer, then we can safely assume that some of what comes forth in dream-world is influenced by God. Perhaps much more of God’s presence comes out in our dreams than we are willing to admit.

In the Bible, dreams are mentioned 110 times. That is 4 times as much as the word “revelation” is mentioned and exactly the same amount that the voice of God is mentioned (NIV). Yet, why do we hear so little about this very significant way that God communicates? The answer is probably twofold. First, dreams fall into the category of the spiritual, or what some Enlightenment thinkers call the supernatural. Since the enlightenment, Christians have pretty much allowed scholars to break reality down into the natural and the supernatural. I’m not really sure it wouldn’t be just as realistic, and perhaps just as biblical, to refer to these realms as the Spiritual and sub-spiritual. But that would probably just confuse the issue.

The Bible knows the two realms as the physical and the spiritual. Man is both a physical and a spiritual being, and this uniquely allows us to dwell in both realms at the same time. Our soul, then receives input simultaneously from both realms. Just as our physical senses communicate through nerve endings and other sources, so too our spirit tries to communicate to our brain any way it can. Dreams play a role in this. When we sleep, there is an opportunity for our spirits to get a word in edgewise, since our bodies are out of the picture.

Since God communicated with many people in the Bible through dreams, and did it quite frequently, it is not unreasonable to believe He continues to do that. But what kind of things did he communicate through dreams in the Bible?

Several examples will suffice to categorize God’s missives through dreams. The first, and perhaps the most plentiful, example of God’s messages is the Teaching Dream. In this sort of dream, God sends a message in either a direct way or through a picture to one who listens. That person does not necessarily have to be a believer, as we witness in Genesis 20. In verse 3, we read

But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.

Abram had allowed Abimelech to believe that his wife Sarai was his sister and not his wife. He even remained silent when Abimelech took Sarai into his household to be his wife. So, what Abram failed to tell him, God was willing to say through a dream. The added threat, I am sure, helped to get the point across to the King that he better not touch the woman he had just brought home. Dreams can be a wonderful way for God to teach, to get home a point we are not listening to while we are awake.

Twenty years ago, God gave me a dream that changed so much of my personal worship of Him. In the dream, I was walking along the beach with a friend. In the distance, we saw a church and decided to enter into it. As we went in, the worship service singing was in full swing. For some reason (we just know things in dreams), we were not noticed by anyone, essentially being invisible. As we looked at each person, noise was coming out of some mouths and not others. In fact, almost two-thirds of the congregation was mute. That’s when we noticed an angel sitting beside us (once again, we knew he was an angel – even though he didn’t have a name tag that said “Hi, I’m an Angel”). The angel pointed out to us that we were hearing things the way God was hearing. “So why can’t we hear some of them”? I asked the Angel. “Because some of them don’t mean what they are singing.” And that’s when I woke up.

I realized that worship is much more than an act, a song, a scripture and a posture. My own worship had often been perfunctory. That morning, I shared my dream with the church in the service. For some reason, it hit home and many people came to the altar in repentance. I am so glad that God chose that moment to speak to us. It changed our church worship forever.

God speaks in dreams to teach. Next time, we’ll look at how God warns us in dreams.


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