Dreams and Visions
By Candace Malcomson
Lately I have become very aware of the frequency of folk in Christian circles quoting dreams that they claim are from God. These dreams are taken as relevant – as relevant as Scripture - and often affect lives profoundly. If the dream seems foreboding the dreamer can be quite depressed. If the dream foretells a happy event the dreamer may be encouraged. Human effort is made to interpret the dream which only opens oneself up to witchcraft. Sigmund Freud made the theory popular that dreams expose some inner wish or fear. Freud was a lost, godless man but sadly his psychology has been quoted as text by the pulpits across the world. Friends, how different is this dream interpretation to reading your horoscope? Ultimately if one takes every dream as relevant or important it is not unlike a horoscope.
God does and indeed will give dreams and visions, but to whom, in what context and most important of all what does scripture say? As with every question, let us study the real that we may know the counterfeit. Let us take a look at the examples of dreams or visions as they are recorded in the Bible; let us put them in context to see what the pre-conditions were, so that we can know and learn what is of God and what is not.
How or Can we distinguish between a dream and a vision?
‘Vision’ both in Old and New Testaments refers mostly to an actual appearance, a sighting; something gazed at, a supernatural spectacle to behold, gazing externally at the appearance. Once in the book of Job the word vision refers to revelation by a dream but otherwise and particularly all NT references use the word vision referring to an actual appearance. Like Christ transfigured on the mountain – that was an actual appearance, an actual sight which the 3 disciples saw and Christ told them to tell no man the ‘vision’ (horama=spectacle) they had seen. Even in the book of Revelation, John’s vision is the word “horasis” which is gazing at an external aspect. Ananias the devout man who laid hands on Saul of Tarsus gazed at a supernatural spectacle (horamah), which is the same as Peter’s vision of the forbidden food coming down in a cloth.
Ananias the certain disciple and Saul of Tarsus Acts 9:9 – 17
God gives Paul (Saul)a vision of a man called Ananias and God gives Ananias a vision of the man Saul of Tarsus. God tells Ananias to go and find Saul of Tarsus and lay hands on him. This is contrary to what Ananias in his natural mind or heart wanted to do for he had reason to believe that Saul of Tarsus was an evil man, not deserving of God’s favour for surely he was the one who had persecuted God’s people? But God gives Ananias information that Ananias could not have known of his own intellect through a supernatural spectacle.
Cornelius, the devout Centurion. Acts 10:2 – 6 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. Note that the pre-condition for this devout man to receive a vision was that he was always in prayer. Peter too was in prayer when he had the vision of the food.
In the NEW TESTAMENT visions and dreams are rather the exception than the rule. The word dream appears in the Bible in 61 verses; only 7 of these are in the New Testament (11%). The word vision appears 73 times in the Bible and only 15 (21%) in the NT.
Scripture must take precedence over experience. Peter having HEARD the audible voice of God and having SEEN the transfiguration on the mount says that even though they saw and heard these things “We have also a more sure word of prophecy”: the word of prophecy he refers to is the written word of God. Peter is showing us that the written word of God has AUTHORITY over the audible and visible. 2Peter 1:16-19 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Once again, God will give dreams and visions but let us be sure they are of God and not our own vain imagination.
Let us look at WHY God gave dreams and in WHAT CONTEXT He gave dreams:
Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. God gave Joseph dreams to confirm the Word of the Lord which the Angel of the Lord had given to Mary.
Matthew 2:12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. God gave them a dream that warned them so that the life of Christ was preserved.
Matthew 2:19 – God gave direction to Joseph to return to Israel from Egypt again to fulfill the word of the Lord that Jesus would be of Nazareth.
Now the most quoted scripture regarding dreams in these last days:
Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: Or Acts 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: Greek for this word dreams is enupnion (en-oop'-nee-on) something seen in sleep, that is, a dream (vision in a dream)
Acts 2 verse 18: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
· NOTE: women (my handmaidens) will prophesy. Prophecy is a common denominator associated with women throughout the whole Bible. Philip the Evangelists daughters were known for their prophecies. Interestingly, the only woman noted to have dreamt in the NT was a pagan:
Matthew 27:19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his(Pilate’s) wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
This unsaved, pagan woman had a dream about Christ which disturbed her. Ponder upon this, dear lady friends, and indeed our role in the church. According to scripture God has ordained that we pray and prophesy and that we be chaste home keepers. God will and does grant dreams to all His people, but it will be with clarity and even repetition as Pharaoh’s double dreams were.
Some time ago I had the very same dream on 3 consecutive nights. The image of a particular person was clear and precise – the face appeared as a terrifying dog’s face. (I am not scared of dogs at all but this was a growling blood thirsty dog!) We prayed for the person and then 3 months later, out of the blue, that person raged against us. We were not dismayed though as God in His mercy had warned us and had told us to hold our peace at the enemy’s taunts. The prophetic nature of these dreams was clear. The repetition of the dream was clear. To God be the glory.
Joseph and Pharaoh
When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, he knew at once that the two dreams were one. God gave him very specific and clear interpretation, but note the pagan advisors to Pharaoh came up with DIVERSE interpretations which confused Pharaoh. When Joseph gave the interpretation of the dreams to Pharaoh, as given to Joseph by the spirit of God, it instantly witnessed with Pharaoh even though it held bad news for him.
God is a God of order, design and clarity. The Evolutionists would like us to think that the world is in chaos, but my Bible tells me that God is in perfect control. TODAY God is in control of every aspect from the rain to the men who reign! Again, dreams in the Bible make perfect sense and are logical. One dream confirms another or a dream lines up with the Word of God. I am not going to beat this to death. I just ask you to be very careful. NOT everything you hear from a pulpit is to be accepted. You are charged - I am charged - every Believer is charged to TEST all things and mark them that cause division by teaching you a doctrine contrary to what you had received in Christ. Rom 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
All of the word of God is relevant for today!
Beloved, pay heed. If you are noting down fragments of your dreams and hoping that they are interpreted to you by the ‘spirit’, take heed. This is witchcraft and one of the many distractions to take our eyes off Jesus Christ. If you are looking for direction for your life, remember we have the scriptures. If we are born-again then we are filled with the same Spirit of God who wrote the scriptures. Our direction for life and godliness (all that pertains to life and godliness) is written in plain language for us to read.
Let us hold fast to that which was first delivered unto us and take heed that we do not get swept this way and that with diverse doctrines. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
Jer 23:25-28 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
Jer 23:32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
This over-emphasis on dreams and visions now so prevalent in the church world has caused the people of God to forget God’s name; it has caused God’s people to take their eyes off Him and on to the imaginations of a men’s hearts. Let us not be light in this matter. God sent them not! May the true prophets of God arise and may we truly exalt Him alone!
If you only read you will dry up. If you only pray you will blow up, but if you read and pray you will grow up!