What is the difference between a dream and a vision

Audio transcription

What is the difference between a dream and a vision? In our last episode, we saw what a dream is, but we didn’t define a vision. Today we will define what a vision is and we’ll also describe the differences between a dream and a vision.

To begin with, in the Bible there are so many examples of visions, beginning with the outstanding vision of John at Patmos. We know that John had the vision that is described in Revelation, the vision of the end times. 

And in his vision, he had a voice behind him. When he turned back to see who was speaking, he saw one who was brighter than the sun, The Son of God.

Every day God is speaking. Even right now, God is still speaking to us. Sometimes it’s only that we are so caught up and so busy we cannot perceive the promptings of His Holy Spirit. God does speak in so many ways. 

And we saw that God speaks through dreams and he also speaks through visions and he also speaks through His Word. He speaks to us through Christ, who is His word. Today we’re going to see the difference between a dream and a vision. 

I remember there was a time I was praying in the afternoon. I was in the prayer room, in my closet. And as I was praying, I had flashes of images in my mind.

Immediately after praying, what I had seen in those flashes of images (which were like a movie) happened. It just happened immediately after I had walked out of the prayer room. So, through that, I knew God was speaking to me. 

And there are so many more examples. God speaks to us, especially during these end times. Because there is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, the giftings of the Spirit. They’ve been dispensed so that they can help us to be effective evangelists, to be effective in our Christian work. 

The Book of Joel 2: 28-29 declares that “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”

So, we know visions are an impartation of the Holy Spirit in our lives. They serve the same purples as dreams. The difference is in how we receive them and how they are conveyed. 

Related: 7 Spiritual causes of sex dreams

Type of visions

Visions can be classified as either open vision or close. There are times when you may have a dream and, in the dream, you may see flashes of light as a series of pictures. 

Pictorial visions

We have what we call pictorial visions. Pictorial visions are visions in which you see pictures and they’re more like a snapshot, a single picture. And the picture itself is very clear, the instructions are very clear. 

Panoramic visions

We have what you call panoramic visions. These are visions where you see moving images. They appear as flashes of images, but it’s not just a single image. The pictures are moving in a series like a movie. 

In Job 33:14-18, The Lord speaks to us once, and even twice though no one perceives it. So, He also speaks to us through another means and another way, which is dreams and vision. And in verse 15 he says that the Lord speaks to us in dreams and visions of the night.

Most often visions do happen when you’re praying any time of the day. A vision is not like a dream. It just happens any time of the day. You can just be sitting and you just see a picture in your mind. Or you may be in a semi-unconscious state when God reveals something within your mind and you can perceive it and interpret it. 

Open vision

What is an open vision? In an open vision, you see something outside your mind with your physical eyes while at the same time, you are very aware of your surroundings. 

You see a picture in your mind, while your eyes are also opened at the same time. So, you’re very conscious, very aware of what is happening around you. 

Closed visions

These are visions in which you are in a semi-unconscious state, in the sense that you are not in your natural self. In this case, you see moving images within your mind. In other words, you see with your mind’s eye not just your physical eyes as your natural eyes are closed. 

Another example of biblical visions is described in the book of Acts 16:9-10, It says “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

Visions are very simple to understand.

Related: Dreaming of a snake biting you

And another outstanding example is that of Peter when he was sent to minister to Cornelius. Act of the Apostle 10:9-17 describes the vision that Peter had at midday when he went to pray in the upper room. And as he was praying, he was taken into a trance. In his vision, he saw unclean foods (animals) coming from heaven. And the Lord commanded him to kill and eat. And Peter said, no, Lord, I can’t do so.

The unclean animals symbolized the gentile community. From this, we understand that God’s agenda for salvation was not limited to the Jews, but was for the entire world.

That’s why it was confusing to Peter because he never understood it. Because it was commonly known that the gentiles were not among the people of God. They were like outcasts. But God was renewing the mind of his servant Peter, by showing him that from the beginning, it has always been His desire for the gentiles to be part of His family. 

From that simple vision, we understand the will of God about salvation. The vision reoccurred three times because Peter was trying to resist it until the Lord instructed him.

Most visions are very short and clear. Normally there’s no symbolism in them. But sometimes some visions are unique, especially the vision of the night. It may have symbolism.

The Bible declares in Colossians 2:3 that in Christ Jesus is a sum total of all wisdom and knowledge. And since in Christ Jesus is a sum total of all wisdom and knowledge, we can rely on God to give us the interpretation of any symbols we see in our dreams and vision.

Every time you have a dream or a vision, you should always pray about it, to either cancel it if it’s a bad dream and If it’s something good, to encourage you, receive it by faith

The differences between a dream and a vision

So now we can look at the differences between a vision and a dream. The number one difference is based on how they happen and the state of our mind when they happen.

For example, dreams tend to happen at night when we are in a state of unconsciousness. While visions occur when we are very aware of our surroundings, or in a semi-unconscious state. So, we can differentiate the two based on how and when they happen.

Visions are very clear and straightforward, while dreams need knowledge of interpretations of the symbolism. That’s why most of us can’t even grasp what is conveyed in our dreams unless we seek Jesus, who is the sum total of all knowledge and wisdom. 

Another difference is based on their length. Visions are very short while dreams can take hours at night. You can sleep and dream for even 3 hours.

Difference between a trance and a vision

A trance, unlike a vision, is not just an experience that you have. Rather it’s a state that you enter to have an experience. Just like when Peter was taken in a trance, in an experience with God, an experience where his mind was transformed, his perception about the gentile, about unclean food was changed. 

You may ask me, now that I have dreams and visions, how can I know that they will indeed come to pass? The answer is simple. Every time you dream and you wake up in the morning and you can still remember the dream, and even after three days, you still remember it, be very sure that this dream will come to pass. 

If it is an evil dream, pray against it to destroy its power.

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