Dreams

In the Bible we find great kings unable to interpret dreams; but servants of God able to do so. Nevertheless two things have to be noted at the beginning itself. One, none of these servants of God had sought to have a dream! Two, they trusted God to give them the right interpretation and were confident that God would reveal it to them. Yes, “interpretations belong to God!”

Dreams were given about the future revealing God’s purposes. It was also given as warning and encouragement. One principle that emerges early in the Bible about dreams is described by Joseph’s words: “The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.”

Daniel wrote down the substance of his dreams. Some dreams that Daniel had troubled and disturbed him. But he was given the interpretation by the heavenly messenger. But many things were beyond Daniel’s understanding.

When God gave Jeremiah a message about the restoration of Israel, it ended with these words: “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah woke up at this point. He described the impact thus: My sleep had been pleasant to me. Your dreams too will be pleasant when God restores to you what you had lost.

Sometimes God reveals certain things early to His servants. Amos was shown certain judgments like swarms of locusts and fire that God was preparing to use against Israel. This made Amos cry out to God to relent. And God heard his cry. So some dreams are given to God’s servants to plead in intercession for people.

On certain occasions a dream is given to you to speak a good word for Jesus. In Matthew’s gospel it is recorded that while Pilate was sitting on the Judge’s seat his wife sent a message to him. It said: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” How much she was disturbed is clear from her willingness to sent a message while Pilate was on the Judge’s seat. Was she shown a vision of the crucifixion? We do not know for sure. But one thing that stands out is her willingness to speak a good word for Jesus!

Dreams often play a great role in guiding God’s servants to needy people who needs to hear the gospel. The vision Paul had of a man of Macedonia is a classic example. This vision came when other two other doors were already closed by the Spirit of God.

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Dreams

We cannot escape the subject of dreams as we deal with the Christmas story in the first two chapters of Matthew. It is mentioned five times (1:20, 2:12, 2:13, 2:19, 2:22). Four times Joseph is guided through dreams and the Magi once.

As we look at the nature of these dreams we understand that God does use dreams to communicate even today. In Joel 2:28 it is said that “your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions” (NIV).

Yes, we do see many dreams. But are they of God? Is there any way to be sure whether they are from God? The study of the dreams that Joseph and the Magi had would shed some light on this subject.

Encouragement
The first dream to Joseph was one of encouragement (Matthew 1:20).

He was a righteous man. He did not want to disgrace Mary publicly even though she was found to be with child before their marriage. So he wanted to divorce her quietly*.

Now Joseph, through the dream, was encouraged to do right. He was assured that God’s hand was there in all what had happened to Mary. He is addressed by the angel as “Joseph son of David,” which might have easily reminded him of their long expectation of a Messiah from the royal line of David. He also might have been reminded of Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament especially the one about the virgin being with child. He woke up to obey God. It is also evident that he respected God’s word because it is explicitly said that he had no union with Mary until she gave birth to Jesus.

If a dream is from God, it would possibly contain a word of encouragement to do right. It would encourage us to be obedient to what God has already commanded in His Word. The opposite of this would make it fully clear. If, Satan tries to communicate to us through a dream what would it probably contain? Would it contain a message of encouragement to do right according to God’s Word? Never. He is a liar and is opposed to God’s Word. Why? He knows that the Bible exposes His real character. Therefore it is impossible for him to encourage us to do right. In other words, encouragement to obey God and do right can only come from God.

Therefore it is safe to conclude that if there is a word of encouragement in your dream, it will in all probability have come from God.

Warning
As we look at all the other four dreams we find that they contain warnings. All these warnings are related to the safety of the Child Jesus.

When the Christ Child is born is someone’s heart immediately evil forces start their work to somehow destroy the child. God knows this in advance. So He takes measures to let the person(s) know how to escape out of the devil’s and his agent’s reach.

And God can do that through dreams. He did that in the lives of Joseph and the Magi. But the devil will never warn us of approaching danger. He will always try to sugar-coat evil and let us perish. But Jesus came that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16b NIV).

Therefore when a warning note comes to us in a dream, in all probability, we can conclude that it is from God.

Timely Obedience
But the success of this kind of communication through dreams depends totally on something else. That is so because the note of warning many times are ignored by people. So it is important to understand that one factor which determines the success of God’s communication of warning to us. That one element that plays a crucial role in the success of God’s communication of warning is timely obedience on our part. We find the Magi and Joseph heeding the warning given to them in the dreams and obeying it immediately. Delays could have spelled disaster for the Child Jesus and even to their own lives too.

This Christmas, let us search our hearts to find out whether we are quick to heed God’s warnings.

Its Simplcity
Another important aspect of the dreams is the fact that they were simple and straightforward messages. God doesn’t try to confuse us with riddles. He uses dreams to help us understand His immediate plans for us. We do not know whether God used symbolic things in those dreams. Even if He uses them, we can be sure that He will make their meaning plain. The simple truth is that dreams that come from God come to give us understanding. The message will be made plain, as clear as daylight.

Therefore this Christmas let us be glad that God uses dreams to encourage us to do right and also to warn us. Let us strive to obey immediately when He does so. Finally let us rejoice that God makes His messages plain to us when He uses dreams to communicate to us!


* In those days being pledged to be married was a strong and binding agreement that the two persons concerned would enter into holy matrimony. It was much stronger than today’s engagements.

 

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