Does God Speak Through Dreams?


dreamsAfter a series of particularly troubling dreams, a young man recently asked me the above question.  He was wondering if God was trying to say something to him and what that message might be.  I told him that I didn’t feel qualified to answer the latter part of his question, but would be happy to take a stab at its first part.

In the Old Testament we find a number of messages from God being conveyed through dreams.  For example, Joseph’s troubles seem to stem from a dream he shared with his brothers.  We aren’t told if the dream was from God, but his brothers quickly took them as a bad omen against them.  They responded by betraying their brother and selling him off to slave traders.  Eventually, because God gave Joseph the ability to interpret the dreams of others, Joseph’s life turned around.  Much later, King Nebuchadnezzar (probably an unbeliever) had some dreams that were sent by God and interpreted by a man of God, Daniel.

In the first chapter of the New Testament (Matthew 1), we find dreams as a chosen vehicle for messages that God was again sending.  Joseph (a different Joseph) is told in a dream to take Mary as his wife.  Then, the magi were warned in a dream not to let Herod know where the Child Jesus was living.  Joseph gets another dream to take his wife and Jesus to Egypt until things simmer down for them.  Later, Pilate’s wife was troubled by a dream about Jesus and she warned her husband not to have anything to do with his trial.  We don’t know if God sent her dream, but she apparently understood it as a sign.

So, we see that meaningful dreams were not an uncommon phenomenon in both the Old and New Testaments.  These dreams appeared to have been used by God on various occasions to send messages.  In my opinion, there would be no good reason to believe that God has stopped using dreams to speak to both believers and unbelievers.

Although I have never had dreams of “Biblical proportions,” I have occasionally gained some spiritual insights while asleep. Recently, I was wrestling with a spiritual concept as I lay down to take a nap.  While asleep I actually gained the insight needed to break through and resolve an issue that had previously stumped me.  This reminded me of Job 33:15-16:

In a dream, in a vision of the night,
When deep sleep falls upon men,
While slumbering on their beds,
Then He opens the ears of men,
And seals their instruction.

Through books that I have read, I have been made aware that many converts to Christianity from the Muslim faith have claimed to have had vivid dreams which eventually pointed them to Jesus.  This is a phenomenon that has been going on for a long time in their communities and is still happening.  Perhaps one reason that this takes places is because Muslims traditionally have placed a high value on dreams.  Therefore, their willingness to accept dreams puts them in a good position to be evangelized by them.

I believe that it is quite possible for God to be reaching out to you you in a dream. However, not every dream is from God.  Sometimes they spring from our selfish desires or deep-seeded wants.  Therefore, we must be careful on how we respond to them.  Wrongly interpreting a carnal dream into a message from God could lead one down a disastrous path.

Since I am not a prophet (though I have prayed for the gift of prophecy), I am not qualified to speak for God in the particular details of someone else’s dream. However, I believe that there are some principles that we can apply to test what we believe may be the message of the dream.

  1. Is the message of the dream consistent with Scripture?  God would not tell us to do something that is against his revealed will.
  2. Has the message been confirmed in other ways?  I believe that God will confirm His message to us in a way that can make us certain that He is speaking.  A message from the President of the United States would not come to you scrawled on the back of a napkin.  Rather, it would be on official stationary and with the Presidential seal.  The paper it comes on is just as important as the message it bears.  I don’t believe God would tie an important message to a vehicle that cannot be confirmed.
  3. Pray for guidance and seek counsel.  Rely on God.  Tell Him in prayer what you suspect the message to be.  Then, seek out godly men and women to get their perspectives.

So, yes.  I believe that God may speak to us in dreams.  But since dreams are a common occurrence for most of us, which rarely bear much spiritual significance, we should take care when assigning God’s voice to them.

Dream on.

Dane Cramer is a backpacker, Christian blogger, jail chaplain, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us.



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