A Vision in the Night

Is your dream from God?

By Jim Allen

All of us dream. Dreams are strange and mysterious and often delightful. A dream can take you to places you've never been and show you things that never were. I like that about dreams. But, every so often one comes along in a powerful way, prompting the question, "Whoa...was this dream from God?"

A lady wrote to Got Questions about such a dream saying God spoke to her during a lucid dream and then yelled at her. Dianna, her name for the purpose of this article, wanted to know if the dream was real, and why God would yell at her when asking a simple question.

As a quick review, a lucid dream is normal. Most people experience them when falling asleep or arousing. During a lucid dream you know you are dreaming. The experience is similar in idea to stepping over a threshold from one world into another. Though the mind is conscious during a lucid dream, it nudges up to the fantasy side of things, and for a time the real and unreal entangle to become one experience.

Then when asleep, the mind processes random thoughts and images that often make no sense. In one instant you can be at a dinner party and the next on the moon looking for a place to park your convertible; or, you can be conversing with a departed loved one and wholly unaware they passed years ago; or, you can be visiting strange and wondrous places nowhere to be found on earth.

So then, how can God speak to you in a dream when things are not what they seem? How can you sort the real from the unreal when the dream seems so real?

A dream from God will always be according to His purpose. There will be no doubt regarding its source. One example is Joseph who was troubled about Mary:
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." Matthew 1:20
The Bible has multiple accounts of dreams and visions from God. If you ever receive a dream from God, you will remember it clearly, the dream will agree with what the Bible teaches, and you will have no doubt about its source.

That Dianna would try to speak to God in a lucid dream is understandable. Her imagination more than likely filled in the gaps and made her think something was real when in fact it was just the mind bouncing back and forth between the real and unreal.

A lucid dream is like a twilight zone experience and nothing more. Of course, this does not mean God never speaks to us through dreams, including lucid dreams. He has, can, and does on occasion use dreams in various ways and forms. The Bible lists some occurrences beginning in Genesis and ending in Acts: Genesis 37:5-10; 1 Kings 3:5-15; Daniel, chapters 2 and 7; Matthew 1:20; 2:13,19; and Acts 10:9-16; 16:9.

How can you know when God speaks to you in a dream? Like everything else, you need to judge the dream according to what the Bible says about dreams. For example, Dianna said,
I...asked if it was alright for me to speak to Him (during the lucid dream) and the voice shouted back, "No!" I felt like I did something wrong, or either I was actually talking to myself...I'm not sure where the voice came from.
Part of my response back to Dianna was,
We might expect a harsh response from the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz but never from God. God is not discourteous or short with someone asking an innocent question. He is a good and kind and gentle God that moves in grace and wisdom regarding the needs of his children (Psalm 136:1). He understands believers are dust and easily troubled and often confused. Had God answered your question, the response would have been gentle and to the point. Yelling "No" may be to the point but it left you feeling bad after asking a simple question. This should tell you the dream was not from the Lord.
Before the Bible was written, God spoke through the scribes, prophets and religious leaders of the day. And when a prophet or priest was unavailable and God had a message for someone, He spoke directly or used a vision or dream to send the message, like with Joseph. But God also speaks through that small still voice of the heart.

But, here's the thing. Today there are believers who place too much emphasis on dreams. They allow themselves to be led astray by interpreting dreams to mean what they do not. Dianna was wise enough to listen to the small still voice that caused her to doubt the dream. Others are not so careful.

You might be thinking all of this is so confusing especially when the apostle Peter said, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says 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" (Acts 2:17).

But like anything, there is the charge to examine all things. The Bible says to judge all things whether they be of God. (1 John 4:1) The prophet Jeremiah wrote, "Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," says the LORD, "and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness..." (Jeremiah 23:32).

Dreams are part of all things. We examine dreams because they originate from within the internal imaginings of imperfect beings. The really scary part about dreams is when people use them to make life-changing decisions. An unexamined dream, if taken at face value, can be consequential to the dreamer and those taken under its influence.

One such person controlled by dreams is the loveable Benny Hinn, known worldwide for his healing crusades and the television broadcast This is Your Day. Though Benny is one unique character unlike any I know, he refers to his dreams as "visions in the night."

During one crusade several years ago, Hinn told the audience about a dream (involving Kathryn Kuhlman) that launched his healing ministry. During the dream Kuhlman said to Benny, "Pray! Ask God to give you a healing ministry that will touch the world!" (Source) Hinn, an underling of Kuhlman and fully convinced the dream was real, prayed and within a week began his ministry.

Now, many years later, the results from Hinn's dream are online for all to read. While some claim legitimate healing, others are less kind and claim the ministry is a sham, having left them betrayed and broken in spirit. If true, then Hinn's ministry is an example of how an unexamined dream can morph into a living nightmare for tens of thousands (Colossians 2:8).
However, we must keep in mind that the Bible is complete, having revealed everything we need to know from now until eternity. This is not to say that God does not work miracles or even speak through dreams today, but anything God says, whether through a dream, vision, impression, or 'still small voice,' will agree completely with what He has already revealed in His Word. Dreams cannot usurp the authority of Scripture. (Source)
In closing, God speaks to believers all the time. He speaks in a multitude of ways, but rarely through dreams. God spoke to Dianna but not in a dream as she supposed. God spoke to her in a still small voice, that gentle nudge of the Spirit whispering in her soul to examine the dream, and so she did.

God has many ways to speak but I think the "still small voice" is the one we hear most often unaware.


Image Credit: Lulu Lovering; "The Glade"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | God-Father

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Published 8-5-2015