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Archive for January 2012

Maybe it was bad pizza?

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Have you ever heard or said that phrase before?  It’s a reply that seems to be common when people discuss dreams they’ve had.  Dreams can be very odd and sometimes seem to make no sense at all.  So when people share their dreams with others, sometimes people will say, “Maybe you just had some bad pizza.”  It’s kind of a way to say there’s really no explanation for your dream and that dreams are just crazy things that don’t make sense.  But is this always the case, especially for the believer in Jesus Christ?  Are dreams just some random incoherent things that happen to us, that have no significance in our lives?  Or can dreams and visions be a way in which God speaks to us and communicates various truths?  I am certain, both from the scriptures and personal experience, that God does speak to His people through both dreams and visions.  What I’d like to do in this post is examine what the scriptures teach and show regarding the subject of God speaking through dreams and visions (which is often related to prophecy as well) to both believers and non-believers.

I’ve noticed that in certain circles, whenever this subject comes up, there is a real hesitancy to accept that God does indeed speak through dreams and visions today.  In all fairness, it’s easy to understand why people would be cautious about this subject.  In today’s world, there’s no shortage of people who claim to receive special revelation from God and who build their entire ministries on promoting themselves as God’s special spokesmen.  Also, in the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Non-Denominational circles, there have been enough false visions and dreams and prophecies to last at least a hundred years.  Because of this and usually some very unbiblical teaching, believers will often “throw the baby out with the bathwater”.  Instead of searching the scriptures on this subject and finding out what it teaches, they reject anything that has to do with God speaking in a supernatural way through dreams and visions.  Then, there are other groups of believers who don’t outright reject the idea that God speaks in dreams and visions today; but they would say it’s a rare thing, and they are usually so skeptical about it that they might as well just reject it altogether.  So on one end of the spectrum, you have people who abuse dreams and visions and promote all kinds of craziness; and on the other end of the spectrum, you have people who either reject, or practically reject, the truth that God does speak through both dreams and visions today.

With this post, I intend to show what the Bible teaches about God speaking to people through both dreams and visions; and again, which is very often related to prophecy as well.  With the grace that God gives me, I intend to show examples of God speaking through dreams and visions in both the Old and New Testaments, discuss the symbolism that we often see God use in dreams, show their role – function – and frequency in the New Testament, address common objections I’ve heard from believers regarding God speaking this way, and give some examples from my life and my wife’s life of God speaking to us through dreams.  Also, though I am mentioning dreams and visions, I will primarily be discussing dreams as they are common experience to everyone and not as unique as having an open vision.

If you are reading this post and are one who has either rejected this supernatural way that God speaks to His people or you’re one that has a real hesitancy towards it, I encourage you to simply read through what I write and examine it with the scriptures.  At one time or another, almost every believer has changed their view regarding some biblical topic.  What often happens is that a believer will get “light” or “understanding” that something is wrong on and instead of finding out the truth on the subject, they jump to the opposite extreme, usually placing themselves in error again.  As believers, we must guard ourselves against that tendency and instead always have the attitude that says, “What do the scriptures teach on this (or any) subject?”  But like I mentioned above, I do understand people having hesitancy towards this subject because of all the falsehood we see associated with dreams, visions, and prophecies.   If you are one who has rejected the truth of God speaking in these ways, let me give you a comparison that will hopefully open your heart and mind up to searching the scriptures on this topic instead of rejecting it all together.

Without a doubt, Christianity is filled with many false teachers.  A simple internet search of almost any biblical topic will quickly show you how much false teaching there is.  However, because there are false teachers and false teachings, do you reject the fact that there are true teachers and true teaching?  Because of the abuse in teaching, did you jump to the other end of the spectrum and say there is no such thing as a teaching gift?  Probably not.  Yet for some reason, because there is much falsehood associated with dreams, visions, and prophecies; believers often reject and remain skeptical of these means of communication instead of finding out the truth on the subject.  So my encouragement is, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; be open and examine what the scriptures teach on this subject.

Also, in this post, I don’t intend to examine all the false visions and dreams that are being promoted today.  My goal is to simply address what’s true – from the scriptures, answer some common objections regarding this subject, and give some examples from my own life.  My hope is that people will see that while God speaks primarily, and clearly, through His written word, He also frequently speaks to His people through both dreams and visions (which includes prophecy) and that this is one of the distinct aspects of the New Covenant.  And again, I will be dealing primarily with dreams.


Starting in the very first book of the Bible, we have several examples of God speaking to both believers and non-believers through dreams.  He does this to communicate His will, to speak of the future, and sometimes to warn.  As we go through the accounts, notice how many of the dreams are cloaked in symbolism and conveyed in riddles that must be interpreted by someone else, or God must give the interpretation to the one who had the dream.  Sometimes God does speak in a more direct way in dreams, but more often than not, it’s in symbolism and riddles.  I’m going to focus on the symbolism and riddle dreams, because these are the kinds that are usually rejected and misunderstood by believers today.


Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear        this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?”   And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.  (Gen 37:5-11)

Notice that both of Joseph’s dreams are filled with symbolism.  God communicated the future actions of Joseph’s brethren and parents and the future status of Joseph by using the symbols of sheaves, the sun, the moon, and stars.  In the first dream, Joseph’s sheaf stands upright and then his brothers’ sheaves bow down to his sheaf.  Even though they disagreed with the meaning, Joseph’s brothers discerned the dream to mean that it was saying that Joseph would reign and rule over them.  That is why their sheaves bowed down to his.  In the second dream, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to Joseph.  Joseph’s father also discerned the meaning of the dream.  The Bible says his father rebuked him and said, “Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?”  Jacob understood that the sun, moon, and stars represented his family bowing down to Joseph.   God could have easily just showed Joseph’s family bowing down to him in the dreams, but He didn’t.  Instead, God chose to show that this would happen, but he chose to use symbolism to convey the meaning.  If this had happened today, some people would have probably told Joseph he just had some bad pizza for dinner when in fact, it was actually God speaking to him.  Who was the wise person in Joseph’s family?  It was his father.  His brothers just outright rejected what Joseph said because they were jealous, but his father “kept these sayings in mind”.  Obviously, we know that Jacob/Israel knew God, and though the dream might have hurt his pride, he knew that God was sovereign and communicated to His people in this way.  We know this because in Genesis chapter 28 Jacob had his own encounter with God speaking to him through a dream.

Cupbearer, Baker, & Joseph

So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.” So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer.   (Gen 40:7-13)

When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head–from you!–and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”  (Gen 40:16-19)

Joseph makes an important statement in the first passage.  He says that dream interpretations come from God.  God is the one who gives an individual the understanding of the symbolism used in dreams.  The very fact that interpretation is needed shows that God uses symbolism and speaks in riddles.  Because a dream seems odd or bizarre does not mean that it’s not from God.  In both of the above dreams, God used different symbols to describe “three days” (three branches and three baskets).  God then used different symbolism to show what would happen to each man.  It’s interesting to note that these men, who were not acquainted with the one and only true God, had the knowledge that their dreams meant something.  They knew that something was being communicated to them through these dreams.

Pharaoh & Joseph

After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke. And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. So in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was none who could interpret them to Pharaoh.   (Gen 41:1-8)

Here we have Pharaoh having two dreams that are riddles and full of symbolism.   And here again we have a pagan, an unbeliever, who realizes that his dreams mean something.  If someone today had a dream of cows eating other cows, someone would surely attribute the dream to eating bad pizza!  Yet Pharaoh knew his dreams had some important meaning.  This account is another instance of God communicating truth about the future through a symbolic dream.  When Joseph interprets these dreams, he says:

And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.  (Gen 41:32)

When God doubles a dream or gives multiple dreams on a given subject, it’s God driving the point home that it will come to pass soon.  I myself have had several instances in which God has given me multiple dreams on a given subject, and it came to pass very quickly.  (I’ll share more on this later.)


When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.” As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the LORD has given the host of Midian into your hand.”  (Jdg 7:13-15)

In Judges 7, God tells Gideon to go to the camp of the Midianites and listen to what they are saying.  God tells him that his hands will be strengthened after he hears them talking.  So Gideon and his servant go to the camp and hear one man telling another man about a dream he just had.  It’s another symbolic dream, where this time a loaf of bread rolls into a tent and turns it upside down so it lays flat.  The guy who was listening to the dream discerned that it meant that God had given the Midianites into Gideon’s hands.  The interpretation clearly came from God, but these men understood that their symbolic dream had meaning.  Notice the fact and pattern that in the Bible, both believers and non-believers understand and believe that God speaks and communicates through symbolic dreams.

Daniel & Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.  You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening.  The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.  As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found.  But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.  This was the dream.  Now we will tell the king its interpretation.  (Dan 2:27-36)

A lot can be said about this dream, but I’ll just make a few comments.  Daniel confirms what Joseph said, that dreams come from God.  The King was in his bed and was thinking about what would come in the future, and God answered him in a dream.  Like the other dreams we’ve looked at, it’s another symbolic dream that needs interpretation.  God gave Daniel the interpretation, and Daniel told it to Nebuchadnezzar.  The dream spoke of future events and was a testimony to Nebuchadnezzar of the truth and reality about the God that Daniel served.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace. I saw a dream that made me afraid. As I lay in bed the fancies and the visions of my head alarmed me. So I made a decree that all the wise men of Babylon should be brought before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers came in, and I told them the dream, but they could not make known to me its interpretation. At last Daniel came in before me–he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods–and I told him the dream, saying, “O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too difficult for you, tell me the visions of my dream that I saw and their interpretation. The visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth. Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. “I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven. He proclaimed aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, amid the tender grass of the field. Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Let his mind be changed from a man’s, and let a beast’s mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him. The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’  (Dan 4:4-17)

Here Nebuchadnezzar has another dream that is highly symbolic.  The dream is about a large tree, fruit, beasts of the field, birds, branches being cut off, a stump left bound with iron and bronze, and then a declaration of the King being wet with dew and his mind being changed.  Daniel interprets this symbolic dream and basically tells the king he’s going to be judged.  He then tells the king to repent and amend his ways.

Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”  (Dan 4:27-32)

I want to point out an important detail here.  The dream took twelve months to come to pass.  I would imagine that after a few months of nothing happening, Nebuchadnezzar, and maybe others who had heard or knew of the dream and its interpretation, might have begun to question whether it was true or not.  Because it didn’t happen right away, they might have thought it was false.  Yet God didn’t put a time limit on the dream; He just gave it.  Sometimes when God speaks through dreams, the fulfillment of them happens right away, and sometimes they can take months or years to come to pass.

So in all these examples, we learn that God speaks through dreams, He often speaks in riddles and symbolism, He’s the one who gives the interpretation, He speaks of future events and personal judgment, He can multiply a dream to impress its certainty and near fulfillment, He gives dreams to both the unbeliever and believer, and sometimes dreams can take a long time to come to pass and sometimes they come to pass quickly.

Before we move to the New Testament, I want to show the last instance that dreams are mentioned in the Old Testament.

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.   (Joel 2:28-30)

Here is a prophecy in Joel in which God says He is going to pour out His Spirit on all flesh (those who believe) and that sons and daughters will prophesy and old men and young men will have dreams and visions.  This is a prophecy concerning aspects of the New Covenant.

New Testament

In the New Testament, we have far fewer instances of people having dreams and visions, but that doesn’t mean that the frequency in which God speaks in this way has diminished.  In fact, contrary to what many people think, it’s the exact opposite.  In the Old Testament, we have book after book that give detailed accounts of individuals’ lives.  Starting at Pentecost, which is when the Spirit was given, we have one book – the book of Acts – that details some of the lives and accounts of individual men.  After that, we have a collection of letters written to individuals and churches.   So we have far fewer detailed accounts of the lives of believers.  But let’s look a couple instances of dreams in the New Testament, one in the gospels and one in Acts.

Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.”   (Mat 27:19)

Here we have another instance of God speaking to a non-believer to give them a warning.  Pilate’s wife had a dream of which we don’t know the details.  But we do know that she understood the dream to show that Jesus was a righteous man and that Pilate should leave Him alone.

After this account, we go to the book of Acts, which is really the last place that we see dreams mentioned as a way in which God speaks to His people.

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’  (Act 2:17-21)

The Spirit had just been poured out, and here Peter is quoting the prophecy of Joel to explain what is going on.  The crux of this passage is that God is NOW pouring out His Spirit on all flesh.  He is pouring out His Spirit on all who believe.  It will no longer be something that is confined to certain individuals/prophets like we see in the Old Testament.  Each believer will now be able to partake of God’s Spirit and have the Spirit dwelling in them.  The result of this happening will now be that sons and daughters will prophesy, young and old will have visions and dreams, and both males and females will receive God’s Spirit and they will prophesy.  In the first part of this prophecy, God is saying that what was limited in the Old Testament will now be a reality to all believers in the New Testament.  All believers will have God’s Spirit and because of that, believers will have dreams and visions and will prophesy.  It is an indication that the frequency of these manifestations will increase because the pouring out of God’s Spirit has increased.  So in the same way we see God speaking in dreams and visions in the Old Testament, we can expect Him to do the same in the New Testament, but on a greater scale.

Now in the book of Acts, we don’t have any accounts of God speaking to men in dreams, except possibly one, but we do have God speaking to men in visions (Peter’s vision of the blanket in Acts 10, Cornelius’ vision in Acts 10, Paul and the Macedonian man in Acts 16, etc.)  I say that there is possibly one case, because Acts 16 says that a “vision appeared to Paul in the night”.  This is the same language that is used to describe dreams in Job 33:15.  Either way, we have God speaking to men in a supernatural way.  If you read through the accounts of God speaking to men in visions, you’ll notice that they are similar to the dreams He gives.  Sometimes God speaks directly to the person, and sometimes he speaks using symbolism which must be interpreted and understood.   My point is that even if dreams are not mentioned in the book of Acts, we KNOW that they did and do happen; otherwise the prophecy of Joel that Peter quoted would be proven to be false.  Obviously, that’s not the case.  The Spirit was poured out and continues to be poured out (in) believers.  God continues to give visions and dreams to His people and will do so until Christ returns.  (side note – People have differing opinions regarding the last part of Joel’s prophecy.  Some people believed was fulfilled in 70 A.D., when Jerusalem was destroyed.  Since we’re still in the last days, I tend to think it speaks of the judgment that is coming and the Day of the Lord.)

The fact the Peter quotes Joel’s prophecy and mentions visions and dreams should settle the matter for anyone who believes God’s word that God indeed does still speak to His people in this supernatural way.  And if we want to know how God speaks to His people in dreams, all we have to do is look at how He’s already done so through what is recorded in the scriptures.  Sometimes God speaks very straightforward, as if He’s having a personal conversation with someone; and at other times, much of the time, He speaks in dreams that seem to come as riddles and with symbolism that must be interpreted.


Though the scriptures are very clear that God has spoken, and still does speak, to people in visions and dreams, there are many people who say God does not do so anymore.  Many people also say that while God can do these things, He doesn’t really do them today with much frequency.  I’ve heard explanations about why we can’t really trust that God does this today and that we can’t put much stock into what Peter said in Acts chapter 2 as it relates to dreams and visions.  So I want to take a moment and go through some of these objections, before I share some of my personal experiences.  Some of these objections are objections that I’ve heard many times, and some of them are from a teaching that I read on this subject not too long ago.  I feel that addressing these objections will be beneficial to those who still have doubts about dreams and visions.

1.  God doesn’t speak through visions and dreams today.

Most of the time, when I hear people say this, it’s because they are cessationist.  They believe that all the gifts of the Spirit, and pretty much anything that would be considered supernatural, have ceased.  They believe that since we now have the written word of God, God is no longer using any other methods besides His word to speak to people or demonstrate His power.  People believe this way because they usually have an erroneous understanding of 1 Cor 13:8-10.  They believe that the “perfect” in those verses is speaking about the word of God, and since we now have the word of God, all these other things – prophecies, dreams, visions, spiritual gifts, etc. have passed away.

The second reason often given is comes from quoting Hebrews 1:1, 2.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  (Heb 1:1-2)

Many people believe that this verse teaches that God at one time spoke in many ways and by the prophets, but that now since Jesus has come, He no longer speaks in supernatural ways.  They believe this verse is proof that God now only speaks through His written word.  However, this verse says absolutely nothing about God’s written word.  Plus, that interpretation is proven false by what Peter said in Acts 2 (that believers will have dreams and visions), and it’s proven false by dreams, visions, and prophesying  that were shown to be active in the book of Acts.  People who say that these things have ceased simply do not believe what the Bible teaches.  In trying to “elevate” and “honor” the word of God, they actually dishonor it by not believing what it says.

2.  God doesn’t speak in dreams and visions today with the same frequency that He did in the Old Testament.

I think many times when people say this, it’s really because they don’t want to acknowledge or accept the reality that God does in fact do this quite often.  They don’t want to say God doesn’t speak in this way anymore, but they don’t want to say that He really does either.  However, the Bible strongly supports the fact that dreams and visions will increase.  Acts 2, in Joel’s prophecy, says that God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh.  As a result of God pouring out His Spirit on all flesh, as opposed to just a few people having God’s Spirit, believers will have dreams and visions and will prophesy.  So basically, what was limited in the Old Testament will now be common in the New Testament.

3.  Joel’s prophecy is simply describing what was happing right then and there at Pentecost. 

I assume that people say this because, by doing so, it would confine all the supernatural aspects of Joel’s prophecy to the day that the Spirit was poured out.  It would mean we couldn’t say these things happen today if the prophecy was only an explanation of what was happening on that day.  However, if we’re to believe that Joel’s prophecy ONLY refers to the event that happened on the day of Pentecost, then we are in real trouble.  If that statement were true, then God’s Spirit is not being poured out on all flesh (all believers) today, because that was part of Joel’s prophecy.  It also means that sometime then, the “sun did not give its light, and the moon was turned to blood.”  Obviously, that didn’t happen AND more importantly, we know that God is still pouring out His Spirit today.  It’s pretty clear that the prophecy of Joel speaks of what was happening on the day of Pentecost; it speaks of what is happening today, of what will continue until Christ returns, and of what will happen right before the “great day of the Lord”.  Joel’s prophecy is clearly not restricted solely to the events that happened on the day of Pentecost.

4.  Peter’s usage of Joel’s prophecy is not intended to show every detail of how God will communicate with His people.

That is certainly a true statement.  Peter’s usage of Joel’s prophecy is not intended to show every detail of how God will communicate with His people.  However, it most certainly does touch on some aspects of how God will speak to us.  It clearly says that believers will have visions and dreams, and they will prophesy.  If this passage is not explaining some ways in which God will communicate to and through His people, then I have no idea what it is saying.

5.  Dreams will always point to Christ.

If dreams must always point to Christ, then visions and prophecies must always point to Christ as well.  However, it’s clear from the book of Acts that dreams/visions and prophecies do not always point to Christ.  In Acts 16, Paul received a vision/dream telling him to go to Macedonia.  It was a vision about direction and not a vision pointing to the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Also in the book of Acts, you have a man named Agabus who prophesies twice.  In the first account, he prophesies of a coming famine (Acts 11:28); and in the second account, he prophesies about what will happen to Paul (Acts 21:11).  Neither of these prophecies pointed to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

6.  We can’t trust that dreams and visions are for today because they are not reinforced and mentioned in the Epistles. 

With the exception of 1 Corinthians 12:1, visions and dreams are not mentioned in the Epistles.  However, are we to assume that because something is not mentioned in the Epistles, it is no longer valid today?  That would mean that every parable Jesus spoke is invalid today because none are mentioned in the Epistles.  It would mean that the conditions for discipleship are invalid today because they are not mentioned in the Epistles; and it would mean that a whole lot of other gospel truths are not valid today because they are absent from the Epistles.  It’s clear that the above objection doesn’t hold any water.

7.  We should not be led by dreams, but we should be led by God’s Spirit.  We should not be slaves of dreams, but we should be slaves of God’s word. 

This is another statement that I recently heard from a brother, but it’s also one that I’ve heard before.  The problem with statements like these is that it pits one way of God communicating against another way that God communicates.  If a man receives a dream or vision from God, does it not come from God’s Spirit?  In the book of Acts in chapter 16, Paul has either a vision or dream about a man from Macedonia telling him to come over and help them.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Act 16:9-10)

What was the result of Paul having this vision or dream?  It says that Paul and his companions sought to immediately go to Macedonia because they concluded that God had called them to preach there.  These men were being led by a vision/dream, one that was from God.  So ultimately, by being led in this manner, they were being led by God Himself.

The second part of the objection says that we are not to be slaves of dreams but slaves of God’s word.  Again, that is pitting one way that God communicates against another way that God communicates.  It should go without saying that dreams must be understood, interpreted, and discerned that they are from God in order to be followed.   But if a dream is from God, it should be heeded.  We are to be slaves of God’s word, but God’s word says that He will speak to us in visions and dreams and that we will prophesy.  So if we are going to be slaves of God’s word, we should be careful to listen to every way in which He says He’s going to speak to us.  And of course, it should go without saying, that a dream from God will not contradict His written word. 

I could go on with more objections to God speaking through dreams and visions, but I’ll stop there.  I just wanted to touch on a few that I have heard many times and some that I’ve just recently come across.  It’s quite clear though, from both the word of God and the testimony of saints through the ages, that God still speak through both dreams and visions.


I wanted to share some of the experiences that both my wife and I have had in regards to God speaking in dreams.  I’m going to share dreams that show different things that God has communicated to us.  Some of the dreams have been easy to understand, and some, many, have been filled with symbolism that required an interpretation.  With many of the dreams, we came to understand the meaning before the event happened, but sometimes we didn’t understand the dream until the event happened.  By paying attention to the symbolism that God has used over the years when He speaks to us in this way, most of the time we are able to discern what the Lord is saying (as God gives us the ability to understand).  When we have dreams from the Lord, we also often share them with other brethren we fellowship with, who also have dreams from the Lord.  God will often use other brothers to help with understanding the meaning of a dream.  Because dreams from the Lord often use symbolism, and because believers are at different places in their walks with the Lord, dreams can be misinterpreted.  I’ve misunderstood the meaning of some dreams before, only to have the real understanding made known to me when the event comes to pass and the Lord reveals to me that the event was what the dream was showing.

I also want to say that just because a believer has a dream or multiple dreams from God does not mean they are some super-spiritual person.  It’s simply one of the ways that God has chosen to communicate with His people.  Some people, like my wife, have had many, many prophetic dreams since her conversion.  I, on the other hand, did not have many prophetic dreams until I understood and believed that God can speak this way to all believers.  Actually, I think the reality is that I probably had many dreams that were from the Lord, but I did not discern that they were from the Lord, because I never put much stock in dreams.  (I had a few in my early Christian years that I knew were from God but not as many as I have now.)  I think this was partly due to my Western mindset that was not really open to or used to spiritual things.  I’ve noticed with my wife, and in my travels, that it seems like people from the East are more open to spiritual things, even when they are unconverted.  (Sort of like how we see unbelievers in the Old Testament knowing that their dreams meant something.)

So let me share some of the different things God has and does communicate to us through dreams.  Keep in mind that God uses symbolism that we can identify with.  With Joseph, He used sheaves and stars; with Pharaoh, He uses cows and corn.  God used symbols that these men would be able to identify with.  God does the same thing when He speaks to us today in this way.


I’ve had quite a few dreams in which God was either correcting me or warning me about my personal life.  There are times when I’ll have a dream that I’m shooting up heroin or doing some other drug.  (I used to do this in my past.)  Now obviously I don’t do this today.  But God has quickened me to understand that when I have a dream like this, He’s showing me that I’m in delusion or compromise in some area.  I’ve noticed the pattern that when God gives me dreams like this, they are always a warning regarding my walk with Him, and He clearly shows me what the area is that He is speaking about.  Both my wife and I have had dreams in which policemen come and arrest us, and there is nothing we can do to escape.  In our lives, these dreams always refer to some trial that we are about to go through and that we must go through, because it’s ordained of God.  Usually there are other details to the dream that let us know specifics about the trial we’ll be going through.

When we were living in Texas, we had a man living with us who had just come off the streets.  He repented and believed, he was delivered from crack, we baptized him, and we let him stay at our house.  A couple weeks later, he had a dream.  In the dream, he was driving a car, but he was driving really fast.  He was driving so fast that he lost control and ended up crashing.  He was a new believer and was not acquainted with having dreams from the Lord.  But like the men in the Old Testament that I mentioned in this post, he knew that his dream meant something.  The Lord gave me the understanding that the dream represented his life, that he was moving too fast, and that if he didn’t slow down something bad would happen to him related to his walk.  This man was staying at our house but he was wanting to get a job really fast and move back home with his wife that he was separated from.  I told him that he should take it slow, that he should spend some time at our place, having no obligations, and spend some time reading the Bible and getting some roots in the Lord.  But he insisted that he should work and start getting back on his feet.  I told him the dream was showing that he was moving too fast and that if he continued, he would have some major problem.  We’ll, he didn’t listen, and he got a job.  As soon as he got his first paycheck, he left.  I didn’t see him again for a long while.  Then one day, I was visiting Dallas and driving through the interchange, and I saw him under a bridge, homeless again.


I have an Iphone that I use for my phone.  When the new Iphone was coming out I was researching it to find out about it.  Of course I didn’t need a new phone, but I was interested in the new features.  I wasn’t eligible for an upgrade yet but I was thinking of doing it anyway.  Basically, I was looking at something I didn’t need and wasn’t eligible to get without having  to pay more money for.  So God gave me a dream regarding this.  In the dream I was in an Apple store.  The store was packed full of people and they were all crowding up around the sales counter.  They were all there because the new phone was being released.  I was at the very front of the crowd and was the first one in line to get the “new thing”.  I looked around and had this realization that I shouldn’t be there and that it was out of place for me to be there.  I woke up from the dream and realized it was God warning me not to be enticed like the world with the latest material things.  Some people might think that God wouldn’t speak to issues like this but He does.  He knows our individual weaknesses and tendencies towards the flesh.  God is concerned with the little things we allow in our hearts that can turn into bigger things and negatively affect our devotion to, and walk with Him (Song 2:15).


Twice, I’ve had two dreams within a short period of time that spoke to something I was going to go through.  In both instances, I had two dreams that showed that I was going to the hospital.  In both instances, after the dreams, I literally ended up in the hospital.  One of these times was last month, in December.  I had two dreams that showed that I was in the hospital having surgery.  In one of the dreams, I was outside of my body watching the doctors operate on me.  (It wasn’t some out of body experience; it was just in the dream.)  About a week after my second dream, my appendix burst.  I went to the hospital, and they performed emergency surgery on me.  In these instances, I received multiple dreams, and a short time later, I was in the hospital.


God has given me dreams that show that I’m being attacked.  In a couple dreams, I’ve been attacked by men with knives.  I had three dreams like this in a short period of time.  Shortly after that, I faced tough spiritual attacks.  The dreams were a warning from God.


When I was in Mexico, I dreamed that I saw a young, homeless man who was dirty.  He came up to me and said he was really tired and was looking for rest.  In the dream, I took him to a place where he could lay down in a bed and rest.  End of dream.  The next day, our family went to California to buy groceries.  While I was in the parking lot of the grocery store, a young homeless man came up to me and asked for money.  I knew he was using drugs, so I asked him what he was using.  He denied using drugs and just said he was homeless.  I shared my testimony with him about being delivered from heroin and shared the gospel with him.  I gave him twenty dollars and then went inside the store to buy groceries.  When I came out, this young man found me and said he had been looking for me.  He gave me back the money and said he had lied to me and that he was a heroin addict (it’s a big thing for a heroin addict to give you back twenty dollars).  He said he was tired of his life and wanted to know more about Jesus.  I was then able to spend more time with him telling him how he could find “rest” in Christ.  The dream came to pass.

About a month later, I had a dream that I got a call from a woman I know in NM.  In the dream, she said that she was really tired and wanted to rest.  I was talking to her on the phone and telling her how she could get some rest.  End of Dream.  The next day, I received an email, the only email I’ve ever received from this woman, and she asked me about a scripture that talks about how one enters into the kingdom of God.  This woman had never asked us a spiritual question before.   I wrote her back explaining the gospel, which is how we find our true rest, our “rest” in Christ.

This last time I was in Mexico, I had a dream that it was raining outside.  In the dream I was driving to go preach at a jail but somehow got on a different road and ended up at another jail.  In the jail, I was taken to a large room with a lot of chairs.  A bunch of the inmates came in, and I was able to preach to them.  End of dream.  The next day, it was raining outside.  I went to a new jail we had started going to.  The officers told me about another jail I should try.  So I got the directions and headed over there.  This other jail was huge.  I met the director and he said I could preach there and then he showed me a large room full of chairs that we could use.  He said they would bring the inmates to this room and we could preach to them.  We ended up preaching at this jail every week.


God gave Lisa a dream that we were to visit some brethren in the US and speak to them about things He showed us in the dream.  In the dream, someone gave us money so we could go.  End of dream.  We had about $100 to our name, which wasn’t enough to make this journey to another state in our SUV and pulling our trailer.  But we knew it was God’s will and planned when we were going to leave.  The night before we left, someone gave us enough money to go.

On our first trip to live in Mexico, God gave Lisa a dream that we would be living in an apartment.  The dream showed that a guy lived in the apartment and that he had a girlfriend but that he was going to move out so we could live there.  End of Dream.  So we got to Mexico and we stayed in a hotel while we looked for a place to stay.  I guess at that time I didn’t think much of Lisa’s dream, because I was looking for a house for us to live in.  Also, I didn’t see many apartments that were available.  So we drove around all day looking for a house with no real success.  In the evening, I went to a gas station to use their free wifi.  All the tables were full, but this one guy said I could share his table with him.  We started talking, and I told him that I was looking for an apartment for our family.  He said he had an apartment but that he was not moving out for a few weeks.  He asked me if I wanted to see it, and I told him yes.  He showed me his two bedroom apartment, and then I went back to the hotel.  The next day, the guy called me and said that he would go ahead and move out so I could rent the apartment.  He was building a house and said he would go live in it.   I helped him move his stuff to his house.  It was totally unfinished.  It had dirt floors with plywood over it.  I also met his girlfriend.  Basically, the Lord moved him out.  It was just like the dream.

Before we went to Mexico the first time, God gave Lisa a dream that someone was going to buy us land.  We thought that maybe someone was going to buy us land in Mexico.  We’ll, it never happened.  We lived in Mexico, then went to India, then came back and traveled the US.  We were about to go back to India when we got a call from someone offering to buy us land anywhere in the US.  The dream came to pass; it just took a few years.


When I was going to preach in London, I was originally going to go by myself.  Lisa suggested that I should ask someone to go with me.  So without telling Lisa, I went into our closet to get alone and was praying to God about two individuals that I had never met, asking God if one of them should come with me.  The next morning, Lisa woke up and said she had a dream and saw me praying in the closet and saw that I was praying about two men, and she named them.  She said that one of the guys was supposed to go with me.  She said in the dream she saw that the guy already had something planned but that he was going to put his plans on hold and come with me.  So I emailed this brother I had never met, telling him about the trip and asking him to come.  He wrote back a couple days later and said that he had prayed about it and would be coming.  He said he had had plans but that he was going to put them on hold and come.

Whenever we’re about to move (when the Lord is about to move us), the Lord will give Lisa a dream showing that this is the case.

When we lived in TX, after I got back from preaching in London, we felt the Lord wanted us to sell all of our possessions.  We sold everything and put our house on the market.  We had zero interest in our house.  Then one night, Lisa had a dream and it showed some guy wearing a striped polo shirt coming over to our house.  He came in the house and walked around for about five minutes and then said he would take the house.  End of dream.  So Lisa told me her dream and I went and posted our house for sale on craigslist.  About ten minutes later, I got a call from a man who had read the post and seen the few pictures I had posted, and he said he wanted to buy our house.  The guy came over later that day, wearing a striped polo shirt.  He walked around for about 5-10 minutes and said he would take the house.

When we were in Mexico the first time, Lisa had a dream that we’d be there for six months.  We first thought that we might move to some other part of Mexico when the six months were complete.  Toward the end of the six months, she had a dream that we were going to a country that started with the letter “I” and that it would be an adventure.  I was thinking it might be Iran, because I’ve always wanted to preach more in Muslim countries.  Shortly after the dream, I got contacted by a brother in India whom I’ve never met.  He asked me to come there and preach the gospel with him.  Not long after, our family was in India.

When we were in India, God gave Lisa a dream that we would be going back to the US.  She also had a symbolic dream that showed the economy would eventually crash.  The dreamed showed it would dip once but then recover and that the second time, it would crash and not recover (the first part of this dream has come to pass).  So we were praying about going back to the US, and an Indian sister came to us the next day and said she had a dream in which she saw us get on a plane and go back to the US.  The Lord then provided the funds for us to return.


This is where I see God directing a lot of the dreams He gives us at the moment.  In our small fellowship, God gives us dreams that relate to each other.  What I mean is that God will reveal things in our lives that are hindering our spiritual life and therefore affect the body.  God also gives us dreams related to the work He has us doing and regarding things that are ahead.  As a body, we discuss these things and seek the Lord on them.  God will work through one or all of us, and He will help us to understand what He’s saying.  It’s really a blessing to see the Lord work in the body in this way.

Those are just a few of the things that God has spoken to us about through dreams.  God has given us many, many dreams that are highly symbolic that reveal things in our lives or things to come.  I would like to share more, but I don’t think it would be beneficial, because many people might not understand the symbolism.  I simply wanted to share a small sample out of our own lives to show how we’ve seen God speak in this way and to testify that what the scriptures speak on this subject is true.


For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword. (Job 33:14-18)

This passage in Job shows one of the ways that God deals with people.  God often speaks through dreams (visions of the night) to warn us.  He speaks to warn us when we are in error, when we are in sin.  But what does the scripture say?  It says that men don’t perceive it.  Not that all people don’t perceive it.  But a great majority of people do not perceive when God is speaking to them through dreams.  Unfortunately, what was true in Job’s day is still true today.  God is still speaking through dreams, and I would say even more so in the New Covenant.  But because of a fear and hesitancy towards spiritual things, along with bad teaching, people today do not believe that God speaks this way anymore or that if He does, it’s certainly not with any frequency.

If you are a believer in Christ and you see in the word of God that God still speaks this way, I would encourage you to pay attention to your dreams.  Write them down and pray about them.  You might just find out that God has been speaking to you and you didn’t know it.

Written by Sean Scott

January 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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