Can God Speak to Us Through a Dream?

Published on 13 April 2024 at 15:33

“So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.” (Genesis 40:8)

There is much wondering when it comes to dreams. People have always been inquiring about their meaning. Dreams are some of the mysteries that haven’t been probably explained entirely, spiritually and scientifically speaking. Some people, among scientists, don’t even know how to explain the need for dreams for us. Most of the time, they might be created by our subconscious, based on what we occupy our mind with during the day or what we worry about. This is what the Bible says about dreams in the book of Ecclesiastes. 

“For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.” (Ecclesiastes 5:3)

This automatically should tell us that not all dreams are to be considered as something spiritual with a godly message for our lives. But which ones, then? And can we really discern their meaning?

The Bible states in some of its stories that there were some godly people who had the ability to discern dreams and know their meaning. There is a story of a young Jewish man named Daniel during his exile in Babylon. He and some other Jews were really different from the rest of the people in their wisdom and abilities. God gave Daniel understanding in all visions and dreams.

The story in the book of Daniel, chapter 2, says that the King had dreams that caused his spirit to become troubled. Then he called all the wise men from his kingdom to test them if they could tell him the meaning of his dream, but without telling them the dream itself. He did it in this way to test them. None of them obviously could do it. Everyone lost hope as the king commanded all the wise men to be executed if no one told him the dream. Then Daniel came ahead and told the king about the dream and its meaning. Everyone could see clearly the hand of God there because Daniel told the king not only the interpretation but was able to know exactly what the dream was about. Because if we want to see a real interpretation of a dream, we need the intervention of God. Only by His wisdom and knowledge can secrets be revealed to us. And this is a miracle.

“Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.” (Daniel 2:27-30)

This is what Daniel said when approaching the king. Two things we can see in this passage. One is that it is the wisdom of God that can only help us to find out the meaning of what He wants to tell us, and the second is that if we have received something, most of the time, it will be to show us the thoughts and the intentions of our heart. Even the deepest ones that we don’t know about. This is the main reason why He wants to communicate with us. He can use a situation, a vision, or even a dream, but in order for these ones to be godly, they need to have one thing in common – His word.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.“ (Hebrews 4:12)

This is the way God has chosen to communicate to us – through His word. And anything we find that doesn’t include His word or its meaning doesn’t come from Him. It will always be His word to talk to us and touch us. Through reading the scripture, through a vision, a meditation, or a dream. Why? Because only His word can touch us and penetrate the deepest part of our souls. That’s why a dream coming from Him will include His word somehow, or it will connect to it with its meaning.

“So Joseph said to them, “Do not Interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.” (Genesis 40:8)

These were Joseph's words when he heard about some people having dreams that did not leave them in peace. This should be our foundation when we want to know or interpret anything that could be there: a situation, a word from the scripture, a sign, or a dream. Still, we must know that not everything we see, hear, or feel comes from God. Even recognizing this fact alone requires wisdom from above, which only God can give us.

The interpretation belongs to God. The interpretation of His word or anything might be there, but mainly of His word. And in the rest of the cases, He also explains everything through His word.

Speaking about dreams, we need to know that most have to do with our thoughts and worries, and we cannot say that God is always present there. We can even say that He is present in very few of them. It is the same with any other message we hear-He is not always present there. The most important is that we always need to find a comparison with His word in whatever we receive – a vision, a dream, or a specific feeling about something. We need to find this vision or dream in His word, if not literally, at least figuratively, but we need to find it there. Obviously, sometimes it happens that for a lack of proper knowledge of God’s word, we can’t find a written confirmation in His word at the moment, but it will definitely be there if the message is godly. That’s why it is so important that we know the word of God. In all cases, though, we need to trust His Spirit, who guides us in all truth.

What remains, anyway, is that we need to look for a confirmation in the Bible. That’s why it is so important to know it and read it every day. God wants to reveal Himself through His word and His Son. And we know that the word and the Son are one and the same. (Hebrews 1:1, John 1:1)

If we don’t find this confirmation, then what we have probably experienced is the fruit of our imagination, emotions, or some other source. Many people today want to have experiences with dreams and visions. Some are attracted to the paranormal, but here we are speaking about something way greater, and this is God.

The other factor that we also need to consider in order to verify if the dream is inspired by God, is to see something unusual in it and to perceive it in our spirit as something coming from God. The people who are already born again are capable of understanding (most of the time, at least) if something really comes from God. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will always know the meaning of it. They will have to seek more wisdom from God or look for help from another spiritual person to help them with the meaning.

Wherever the dream comes from, however, most of the time will have to do with our environment or surroundings. I mean that details of what surrounds us daily will be in that dream. For example, if you are a builder, you might often dream about building something; if you are a soccer player, you might sometimes dream about something related to soccer or something else having to do with your everyday experiences. It doesn’t necessarily mean that God will use a completely different scenario when He wants to speak to you in a dream or night vision. We can see an example in Genesis 40 where we see the story of the butler and the baker who were in prison together with Joseph and had dreams with godly messages in them. Both of them had in their dream a situation related to their environment. The battler dreamed about serving the fruit of the vine to Pharaoh (Genesis 40:9-11), and the baker dreamed about baked goods (Genesis 40:16, 17). Both dreamed about the job they performed every day, but nevertheless, this time, their dreams carried a particular message from God to each of them.

He can use situations or even persons you know that represent something figuratively so that He can communicate something to you in that dream. He will use your surroundings, things well known to you and familiar to you, so that He can give you a message through them. Through what they represent, but always accompanied by His word obviously. You could, anyway, see something unusual in your dream that stands out and makes a difference from any other dream. Something that will get you to think. In the baker’s case from Genesis 40, it was that birds came and ate the baked goods he was carrying to Pharaoh (Genesis 40:17). In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, there were many unusual things, such as a statue built with different materials for example (Daniel 2:31-33). Surely, the statue in his dream was something common for him as he also built one himself, but the fact that it was built with five different materials was unusual. We need to meditate when we see such unusual things in our dreams and see if God wants to tell us something, but the main thing, however, is that we see a relation to His word in those things, as we already said. And this is what we need to be looking for.

As we mentioned before, there is an example of the butler and the baker from Joseph’s story. While in the prison where Joseph was, they both had a dream. And both of them dreamed of what they usually did for a living. The butler dreamed that he was serving wine to the Pharaoh, and the baker dreamed of baked goods as well. They could have had similar dreams at any other time, but those were particular. God wants to speak to us through the things we know, sometimes through things and events that are common to us. We can see the examples Jesus was giving through parables at that time. All of them are common to the people. He spoke of a sower sowing in the field, of nature, of trees giving fruits, etc. He was doing that so that people could easily relate and imagine and so that He could reach out to their hearts. Dreams could also be like parables and stories to us. Scientifically, they are produced by our subconscious, but they can also be a way for God to communicate with us sometimes. We have to be careful, though, because our subconscious can also be a devil’s playground, but if we are spiritual, we would know and discern what and who is driving our feelings and emotions.

Now, we need to see in which conditions and to whom these dreams are directed, even though we also need to know that to have a dream from God is not something that happens so often, and many of the dreams that most people are having, including Christians, are due to thoughts, different worries as it is said in Ecclesiastes 5:3.

“For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.”

We also have to underline that we mustn’t necessarily be spiritual persons so that God can communicate to us through dreams. In the scripture, we see different examples of godly people and also of people not knowing God, but nevertheless, He was still interested in communicating with them in a dream. We must know that neither the baker, the butler, Nebuchadnezzar, nor the Pharaoh, to whom God sent dreams, were spiritual persons. Still, God wanted to communicate with them in this way. Why? To warn them. Maybe because that was the way to get their attention.

Let’s see a passage in the book of Job 33:14-18

“For 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 comes falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction. In order to turn man from his deed, and conceal pride from man, he keeps back his soul from the Pit and his life from perishing by the sword.“

This passage shows us that God sends a dream to warn people. We see that as they are not attentive to His word in another situation, He sends them a night vision to let them meditate and get their attention. That’s why we conclude that He doesn’t speak through a dream, only to spiritual persons.

In the scripture, we find the examples of Pharaoh in Genesis 41, King Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon in Daniel 2, and obviously, the baker and the butler in Genesis 40. These were not godly people, yet God wanted to warn and communicate with them. Why? Because He had a plan to accomplish. It was a plan for their own lives and His will. I met quite a few people who maybe just recently heard the gospel and had not yet been born again, and still, they told me about dreams that were particular to them, and I could see that there was something spiritual with a specific message in their dreams. We have to underline that to those people, God will mostly send a message of warning on how to accept Him or to trust more in Him, rather than telling them to go and do something or some other particular message. Everything that God wants to communicate with us is for His glory. He communicates to each person according to what that person needs. I am not saying either that God will necessarily send a message through dreams to most people, but we need to watch out anyway. As I said, the enemy can even use dreams to wake up other desires or bring wrong feelings like any other message we hear from him throughout the day. That’s why we must look carefully into God’s word and examine and discern everything.

So, from this, we understand that, in general, dreams are to draw our attention, to warn us. They might be for those people who have not yet been converted and those who have already been converted to God. We only need to know that in any way the message of God comes to us – through listening to a sermon, through reading His word, or through a dream, it has a specific meaning that leads to God and never diverges from His word. It always goes hand in hand with it. We must be very careful when trying to interpret anything our way. And we definitely need wisdom from above to know the meaning. It is not with our wisdom but with God’s. “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets….“ (Daniel 2:28). This wisdom comes only from the guidance of His Holy Spirit.

Joseph (Mary’s husband) was also warned in a dream that Herod was going to kill all the male children in Bethlehem, and for this reason, he managed to run away in time (Matthew 2:16). By this, we see that spiritually inspired, or better said godly inspired dreams are not just an Old Testament event but also something that happens in the New Testament era. And even more so now that the Holy Spirit is here. 

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.“  (Acts 2:17, emphasis added)

I personally have received very few dreams from God in my life, and I acknowledge that. The few that I received were mostly to warn me about something. We must always be realistic about our condition and how much and what we receive from God. And I repeat that we also need to be very conscious about how we interpret our dreams. It often happens that besides the dream we receive from God, confirmed by His word, we also receive other confirmations besides that, through situations or reading His word.

We need to see in which way the experience or dream we are having connects with the word of God. We may not always see the word written somewhere in the dream or literally see someone reciting it, but we will also see that the meaning of what is happening has to do with the scripture. It is very important to find this out because besides confirming that the dream was inspired, it will also help us to know the meaning. He left His word here with us as a way to communicate with us. It is the supreme authority.

It is good to examine everything. The guidance of the Holy Spirit will mostly help us with that. It is said that His Spirit will guide us into all truth. And if we are spiritual, or better said, born again, we will know when God wants to communicate with us.

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