Does God speak to us through visions and dreams?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of whether God speaks to us through visions and dreams is a significant one, touching on the nature of divine communication, the experiences of biblical figures, and the ongoing relevance of such experiences in the lives of believers today. This essay will explore biblical evidence, including references from the Scriptures, to affirm that God has indeed communicated through visions and dreams and discuss how these experiences are understood and discerned within a biblical framework.

Biblical Evidence of God Speaking Through Visions and Dreams

Visions mean “waking dreams” (Numbers 24:4). God uses these manifestation to reveal His plans to His children.

  • Amos 3:7 (NKJV): “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”

Old Testament Examples

Abraham

One of the earliest instances of God speaking through a vision is found in the story of Abraham.

  • Genesis 15:1 (NKJV): “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.'”

In this vision, God reassures Abraham of His protection and promises, demonstrating how visions can provide comfort and direction.

Jacob

Jacob also experienced divine communication through dreams.

  • Genesis 28:12-13 (NKJV): “Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.'”

This dream, known as Jacob’s Ladder, affirmed God’s covenant with Jacob and his descendants, highlighting how dreams can convey significant theological and covenantal truths.

Joseph

Joseph, the son of Jacob, is another prominent figure who received divine messages through dreams.

  • Genesis 37:5-7 (NKJV): “Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.'”

Joseph’s dreams, which foretold his future rise to power, were pivotal in his life’s narrative and God’s plan for Israel.

Daniel

The Book of Daniel contains several instances where God communicates through visions and dreams, providing insight into future events.

  • Daniel 2:19 (NKJV): “Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.”

Daniel’s visions and interpretations of dreams played a crucial role in revealing God’s sovereignty over earthly kingdoms and future prophetic events.

New Testament Examples

Joseph, the Husband of Mary

In the New Testament, Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, received guidance through dreams.

  • Matthew 1:20 (NKJV): “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.'”

Joseph’s dreams provided him with crucial guidance and assurance regarding the birth and safety of Jesus.

Peter

Peter’s vision on the rooftop in Joppa expanded the early church’s understanding of the gospel’s reach.

  • Acts 10:10-13 (NKJV): “Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.'”

This vision was instrumental in leading Peter to understand that the gospel was for both Jews and Gentiles, breaking down ethnic and cultural barriers.

Paul

Paul’s missionary journeys were also directed by visions and dreams.

  • Acts 16:9 (NKJV): “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.'”

The vision of the Macedonian man led Paul to bring the gospel to Europe, demonstrating how visions can direct missionary efforts.

The Nature and Purpose of Visions and Dreams

Divine Communication

Visions and dreams are ways in which God reveals His will, provides guidance, and communicates truths that might not be accessible through ordinary means.

  • Joel 2:28 (NKJV): “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, your young men shall see visions.”

This prophecy, reiterated in Acts 2, indicates that visions and dreams are expected manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s work in the last days.

Encouragement and Assurance

God often uses visions and dreams to encourage and assure His people, especially in times of uncertainty or danger.

  • Acts 18:9-10 (NKJV): “Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.'”

In this vision, God reassured Paul of His presence and protection, empowering him to continue his ministry in Corinth.

Warning and Correction

Visions and dreams can also serve as warnings or calls to repentance.

  • Matthew 2:12 (NKJV): “Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”

The wise men were warned in a dream to avoid Herod, ensuring the safety of the young Jesus.

Discernment and Testing of Visions and Dreams

Biblical Testing

While visions and dreams can be legitimate means of divine communication, they must be tested against Scripture to ensure they are from God.

  • 1 John 4:1 (NKJV): “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Discernment is crucial because not all spiritual experiences are from God. Believers are instructed to test the spirits and ensure that any vision or dream aligns with biblical truth.

  • Isaiah 8:20 (NKJV): “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).

Here, the prophet directs men to the Word of God as the basis for the truth. God has revealed Himself in His Word. Therefore, whatever is revealed that is not in harmony with the Scriptures would not be a revelation from God.

Confirmation by the Community

Visions and dreams should also be confirmed by the community of believers, ensuring they are consistent with the faith and practice of the church.

  • 1 Corinthians 14:29 (NKJV): “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.”

The practice of communal discernment helps prevent deception and ensures that revelations are in line with the teachings of Scripture.

At the end of time, the Lord promised that He will give more of His revelation to His remnant people.

Acts 2:17 (NKJV): “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.”

This is a direct quoted from the Old Testament reference in Joel 2:28. This would be a special pouring out of the Spirit that would results in the display of supernatural gifts as when it happened at the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). In the early church “the manifestation of the Spirit” was given “to every man to profit” (1 Corinthians 12:7). The events of Pentecost were but a partial fulfillment of Joel’s prediction. The prophecy is to reach its full accomplishment in the manifestation of divine grace which will attend the closing work of spreading the gospel to all the world.

Modern Perspectives on Visions and Dreams

Bible students believe that God continues to speak through visions and dreams today. They see these experiences as part of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the church. However, there is a need for careful discernment and alignment with Scripture. While personal experiences are valuable, they should never supersede or contradict the Bible.

Conclusion

The Bible provides ample evidence that God has spoken through visions and dreams throughout history. These experiences have served various purposes, including divine communication, encouragement, warning, and guidance. Both the Old and New Testaments contain numerous examples of individuals who received and acted upon divine visions and dreams.

However, the biblical mandate for discernment and testing remains crucial. Visions and dreams must be evaluated in light of Scripture and confirmed within the community of believers to ensure they are genuinely from God. While the ways in which God communicates may vary, His word remains the ultimate standard for truth and guidance.

In contemporary Christian practice, believers should remain open to the possibility of God speaking through visions and dreams while exercising wisdom and discernment to see if these experiences are in harmony with the Scriptures. This approach honors the biblical precedent and ensures that such experiences contribute positively to the life and mission of the church.

Through all, it is clear that God, in His sovereignty and wisdom, chooses to communicate with His people in ways that reveal His presence, purpose, and power, affirming that He is always actively involved in guiding and nurturing His children.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Categories God

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