Are Dreams From God?
“GOD MAY SPEAK IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, YET MAN DOES NOT PERCEIVE IT. IN A DREAM, IN A VISION OF THE NIGHT, WHEN DEEP SLEEP FALLS UPON MEN, WHILE SLUMBERING ON THEIR BED”
I was in my early twenties when I had my first real encounter with God in a dream, at least that I could remember anyway. Until then I'd spent at least half of my teens waking up to strange figures in my room, a shaking bed or dreams that were clearly attempts to confuse my spirituality with God. But my God encounter dream in my twenties was different. It involved thunder and lightening, a voice speaking through a cloud and an empowering gospel message. The dream ended with me standing on a table to share the gospel in a packed room. It was haunting and beautiful all at the same time and I've never forgotten it.
But later in life my dreams changed. I would dream sometimes half a dozen times a night every week for months on end and some were more symbolic than I was able to decipher. Dreams are now one of the primary ways I hear from God yet I was never taught about it in church and I've heard very few people talk about it in our communities.
"almost the greater part of mankind derive their knowledge of god from dreams."
tertullian of carthage
We're asleep for one third of our life, that's a huge amount of time to assume that God is not speaking to us. In the night our subconscious is free to engage with God without the boundaries of the rational thought or faith limitations that our daily mind brings us. It's an opportunity for God to speak to us again in metaphors and parables like Jesus did when he taught his disciples. Dreams are not often literal, they're intended to be clear to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear and they require an poetic approach to be understood rightly. Yet there is a distinct language God uses in dreams to communicate to us about the issues of our own heart, calling and important life decisions.
Job is the oldest book in the bible and from the early days it was clear to humanity that though God speaks to us in dreams we don't always understand it. But something changed at Pentecost. Joel promised us that in the last days all people would hear God's voice and one of the signs of that new era would be an increase in dreams and visions. So today, revelation and dreams walk hand in hand as part of Jesus' revealed intimacy with his people.
Abraham met God in a vision of the night (likely another way of saying in a dream). Joseph dreamt about his future as did Daniel and the unbelieving Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. God gave Gideon's enemy a dream that struck fear into their hearts and encouraged Gideon that God was with him for victory (Judges 7:13). God explained Mary's pregnancy to Joseph in a dream (Matt 1:20), led them to flee to Egypt (Matt 2:13) and told them when to return to Israel (Matt 2:22) all in dreams. He directed the wise men not to report to Herod in the same way (Matt 2:12) and at Jesus' trial Pilate's wife was disturbed by a dream that caused her to give her husband caution during Jesus trial (Matt 27:19). That's not even including the many examples of God speaking to people in "a vision of the night" which some scholars believe to be another way of saying a vivid dream, or a dream in which one actually encounters God.
Dreams have also inspired inventions and breakthroughs in creativity and the sciences. The discovery that the earth is not the centre of the universe was discovered by an astrologist in a dream. Einsteins theory of relativity came to him in a dream, as did David Cameron's Terminator movie, the Beatles Yesterday, Handel's Messiah and Elias Howe's invention of the sewing machine. Just to name a few.
"it is a matter of belief that in dreams, impressions have been brought before the minds of many. some relate to divine things; others to future events of this life. this may be with clearness or in a symbolic manner."
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If you have never dreamt before take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to give you dreams tonight when you lay down to sleep. I've never met someone who has prayed this prayer who hasn't dreamt within a week of asking. When you wake up remembering it write it down immediately, then spend some time the following day asking God to make clear to you what the dream is about. The important thing is to record it when you wake because most people forget the dream when they wait until the morning.
As with all spiritual practices the more you ask, write, pray and obey God's voice through your dreams, the more frequently and the more clearly you will have them.
Have you had an experience of God speaking to you in a dream before? Share it in the comments below!