Do Christians have dreams that have meaning? Is there a way for believers to interpret these dreams? Does God communicate to Christians by dreams or does God speak to us in our dreams?
Joseph, Interpreter of Dreams
The Bible describes situations where dreams are interpreted and one of the best examples of this is when Joseph interpreted the dream of the Egyptian Pharaoh (Genesis 41). Joseph had been thrown into prison unfairly and when he was able to interpret the dreams of the baker and the cup bearer and when the cup bearer heard that Pharaoh had a dream he remembered Josephs God-given ability to interpret dreams (Genesis 40). Pharaoh freed Joseph from prison and Joseph interpreted the dream by Pharaoh and by doing so, many nations were saved, including the nation-to-be, Israel. Joseph warned the Pharaoh of a soon-coming drought that would lay waste the entire region for 7 years. But does God still send dreams to those in the church and even those outside of the church?
God, Giver of Dreams
God gives us all, believers and non-believers, the ability to dream. These dreams can sometimes have meaning and I do believe God does use dreams to send Christians messages but He also sends dreams to those who do not yet know Christ. I have communicated with some Muslims who had abandoned their love for the Islamic religion and they have informed many that they had dreams about Jesus. One former Muslim told me that he had a dream of Jesus on a boat in a river. Jesus was waving to him and asking him to come to Him. In this dream, the former Muslim said that he jumped into the river where there was danger and swam to Jesus and when he got on the boat with Jesus, the former Muslim asked Jesus many questions. God has and still does use dreams to reach lost people who have no access to a Bible or to Christian missionaries. This man woke from the dream and sought out a Christian and wanted to read the Bible. He later put his trust in the Savior. This squares with what is written in the Word that the Father draws men and women to Christ (John 6:44). The point is that there are literally hundreds of former Muslims who have become disillusioned with the Islamic faith and converted to Christianity because the love of Christ attracted them. What stands out most to these former Muslims is that God spoke to them in dreams, and some say, visions. There is little doubt that God has, can, and will in the future use dreams to speak not only to Christians but those still outside of the faith.
God Speaks to Us
If God speaks to us in a dream it will never be contrary to the Bible.
We know that the Bible is God’s very Word and that His Word, contained in the Bible, speaks to non-believers as well as believers today. We cannot limit God or put Him in a box and so I cannot say that every dream we have is from God but at the same time, it is very possible that God will speak to us in dreams. John had a vision from God and that is recorded in much of the Book of Revelation. Even Paul was caught up into the heavenly realm where he saw many things, some of which he was forbidden to even speak about. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 Paul wrote about this, “Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows — was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.”
God does speaks to us today through His Word but He also reserves the right to speak to us in our dreams and to those who are at present, lost. Then the question arises, how do we know whether a dream is from God or just by random chance and has no meaning?
Discerning Whether Dreams Are From God or Not
Since we know that God does use dreams to communicate to non-believers who are being called to faith in Christ and also sometimes uses dreams to speak to Christians, how can we know whether the dream or vision is from God? The main determining factor as to whether a dream or vision is from God or not and to whether we are to act on this vision or dream is if it agrees with what is written in the Bible. God will never contradict Himself. That is, He will never send a dream or vision that is contrary to what is recorded in His Holy Word, the Bible. Whatever a person dreams can be placed against what is recorded and revealed in the Bible to see whether it is His message or His will for us or someone else. We cannot just have a dream and claim that God spoke to us and use that dream as concrete evidence to do something or that it was a message from God…particularly if it goes against what is taught in the Bible. God is not the Author of confusion. The Holy Spirit always agrees with what is in the written Word. No dream or vision that goes directly against what is written in the Bible is from God. Who knows, this dream or vision may well be from the Enemy or one of his fallen angels, demons. We must use discernment to determine if God wants us to do something or not.
Joel, Peter and Visions
The prophet Joel spoke about dreams and visions when he wrote in Joel 2:28-29 saying that, “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.” This prophecy came true on the day of Pentecost with the birth of the church and the coming of God the Holy Spirit to men and women.
The Apostle Peter had a vision from God in Acts 10:9-16, “The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. God sent this vision to Peter to tell him that the gospel of grace would now go out to the Gentiles. God was establishing the fact that the legalism of clean and unclean foods was now done away with and the analogy of the Jews thinking that the Gentiles were unclean was wrong. God wanted to take the gospel to the whole world and not just to the children of Abraham.
We have seen that God can and has used dreams to speak to believers and to non-believers. He sometimes uses these dreams to reveal His will to Christians and sometimes to draw non-believers to saving faith in Christ. We also understand that not every dream is from God and that dreams must be placed against the Word of God to see if they are from God or not…and if God is speaking to us or someone else to show them His will. Dreams sent from God never contradict Scripture but always agree with the Word. Dreams are a way that God is still using to communicate to believers and to call those outside of the faith to Jesus. If someone tries to interpret your dream and tells you something contrary to the Bible, then don’t believe it. God never uses extra-biblical evidence like dreams to go against that which is revealed in His Word. Does God use dreams to speak to believers? Does God use dreams to communicate to non-believers? Yes, in both cases. The only way we can know for sure is whether it is in alignment with the Bible. If it is, then it could well be that God is speaking to you or someone else in dreams. If it is contrary to Scriptures, then don’t believe it, for even the Enemy can be disguised as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).