What are biblical dreams and what purpose do they serve?
We have all had dreams. God speaks to us through dreams and the most common way He speaks to our hearts is through His word. But most often we are too occupied to hear Him during the day as we fail to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
According to the dictionary, dreams are just a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind when they are asleep. We know that God spoke to the Old Testament prophets through dreams and visions.
What the Bible says about dreams
The Bible gives us a clear hint of what dreams are and their purpose.
Job 33:14-18 declares “For God does speak —now one way, now another — though no one perceives it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword.”
From this, we learn that God speaks to us in different ways but we rarely passive it. And He speaks to us in dreams and visions when we are asleep and relaxed. We also learn that dreams are meant to warn us and keep us from the pit
2 Timothy 3:16 describe the purpose of the word of God. That it is meant for teaching, reproving, and training in righteousness that we might be complete. The same principles apply to dreams.
There are those who dream often probably because they operate in the prophetic gift. If you don’t have frequent dreams it doesn’t make you less spiritual. It might be that you are more attentive to the promptings of The Holy Spirit during the hours of the day.
Reasons why God reveals dreams
1). To warn us of coming events and deliver us from destruction (Job 3 14-18)
Pilate’s wife was warned through a dream that they should have nothing to do with Jesus.
“While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”" Matthew 27:19
Another dream is in Matthew 2:13, where Joseph was warned to flee with his family to save the child from being killed by Herod.
Most often God warns us of events to come but we don’t perceive it. sometimes our minds are so tired that we assume any dreams we have.
2). To strengthen our faith
Perhaps you have been trusting God for some breakthrough, and it does not seem to manifest. God will never leave us stranded. To strengthen our faith and rekindle His fire in us, He reveals the end product through dreams and visions. It is now our duty to trust in what He has said concerning that situation.
I remember there was a season I was trusting God for a breakthrough, and God revealed in a dream the end results. I thought it would take a month, but it ended up taking up to eight months for the dream to be fulfilled. At this season I was going crazy as it was taking too long. However, God continued to strengthen my faith through a series of dreams and visions and also through His word. This rekindled my faith and granted me the grace to endure.
3). To reveal His will
He does this to enable us to align ourselves with His will which is perfect, good, and pleasing. I remember a time I had involved myself in a relationship and the Lord reveal to me through a series of dreams that this woman will eventually walk away into darkness (that is, in a wrong relationship with someone else).
At this time in my life I was not that spiritually inclined to discern what God was saying. I never used to take dreams seriously until reality hit me.
4). To help others
God reveals dreams concerning other people so that we might be used as vessels to convey His message to them.
He might reveal things others are going through so that we might intercede on their behalf, encourage them, and help them.
5). To reveal the future
The book of Amos 3:7 declares that “The Lord does nothing before revealing it to his servants the prophets”. There is no time in history when God did something without Him revealing it to His servants. He doesn’t want us to be caught unawares. He prepares us for the future.
A good example is that of Joseph. God had revealed in two dreams the future of Joseph. His brothers tried to kill him and sold him thinking they had destroyed the dreams. Little did they know they were placing Joseph on the path of his destiny.
What are the sources of dreams?
There are three sources of dreams, which include dreams from God, dreams from the human mind, and dreams from the devil.
Dreams from God
Dreams from God have a clear flow and are consistent with the scriptures. They serve the five purposes we have discussed above.
Dreams from the human mind
There are dreams drawn from our thoughts, emotions, and fantasies. They are not consistent as there is no clear flow or message.
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Ezekiel 13:1-3
Dreams from the devil
These dreams are intended to turn our hearts from God and cause confusion in our lives. The main characteristics of evil dreams are that they always bring fear, paralysis in the case of sexual dreams, condemnation, and ultimately mislead you.