Updated: Jan 22
It is strange how many find this topic of no importance when it falls within the category of hearing the voice of God, no wonder people think that God does not speak due to overlooking this important aspect of God's divine means of communication in dreams and visions.
Job 33:14-18 says “For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it. 15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds, 16 he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, 17 to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, 18 to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword."
We see that the word dream appears 87 times in the Old Testament and eight times in the New Testament. Similarly, the word vision appears 86 times in the Old Testament and 17 in the New Testament. While the notion of divine dreams and visions may seem unusual to some of us, it’s not unusual to God.
In this short article, we will look at the difference between dreams and visions and some practical steps to help us recognize the voice of God through these channels.
A dream takes place in a state of sleep whilst a vision comes to an individual while awake. Visions can come in the form of an open vision or a mental vision. What we need to note is that there are 3 types of dreams and visions because not all dreams and visions are divinely inspired.
1. Dreams and Visions from God
These are divine messages meant to direct and instruct, to reveal the plan of the Lord, and to reveal the nature of God. We see one dream in scripture where God was outlining his plans in the case of Joseph when he dreamt of the sheaves of grain bowing to him in Genesis 37:5-7 “Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
2. Dreams and Visions that are spiritual attacks
These are dreams created by the enemy to manipulate control and to sow seeds of discord and destruction. Through Jeremiah, God said this about the “smooth-tongued” prophets in Jeremiah 23:32 “Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people”
3. Dreams and Visions from our subconscious processing
These are dreams motivated by our mind's desires, they can arise from memories, past events, repressed desires, unfulfilled hopes, or activities of your day. An example of this could be after watching a particular movie you would have a dream of yourself featuring in that movie. King Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 5:3 that “Too much activity gives you restless dreams”
Types of dream and vision visitations
When we look at accounts of dreams written in the Bible we see accounts of literal dreams like in the case of King Solomon who received a strange visitation in the night and a proposition was made to him by God that resulted in him becoming the wealthiest man recorded in the universe. We see this in 1 Kings 3:5 "In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night. And God said, Ask what I shall give you.”
Joseph had an encounter in a dream as well and he muttered the words that “surely God is in this place and I knew it not” after his visitation. Genesis 28:12 "And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!" "And behold, the Lord stood over and beside him and said, I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father [forefather] and the God of Isaac; I will give to you and to your descendants the land on which you are lying."
We also see dreams that have a lot of symbolism that require interpretation - famous example is the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 2 which required Daniel to interpret, when we look at this narration we also notice one important thing that Daniel did before he interpreted the dream; he asked to be given time to pray, only after the prayer did he have an answer for the King. If you do not understand your dream go back to the source child of God and he will surely clarify what He is saying to you.
In the account of visions, we see other visions that left those that experienced them not certain whether they were having out-of-body experiences or not; we read this when Paul was recounting his vision in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 “I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell."
How should we steward dreams and visions?
Document your dreams and visions
Understanding that God uses dreams and visions to speak to us we need to become good stewards of revelation downloaded to us, thus it is prudent that we develop the habit of documenting our dreams. keep a notebook that can help you notice certain repetitive dreams, those are mostly dreams that need your attention to understand the message in them for you.
Pray about your dreams and visions
Pray about your dreams to ascertain whether they are from God or not and also to get further understanding on the course of action you need to take regarding the dreams.
Use the word of God to judge your dreams and visions
Over and above prayer we need to use the word of God to judge our dreams and visions, If a dream or vision tries to convince you of something contrary to the Word of God, it is not from the Lord. He will never contradict His Word. 1Peter 1:25 promises that “the word of the Lord endureth forever”. It will never change or become irrelevant. Therefore, we can hold it up as the absolute truth by which we judge our dreams and visions.
Share your dreams and visions with your spiritual leader
One other way to judge dreams and visions is by sharing them with someone you trust who is your spiritual leader because often dreams and visions confirm what the Spirit of God has already been speaking.
God spoke through Prophet Joel saying “’ In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” In other words, the resultant effect of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit includes dreams and visions since the Holy Spirit searches out the deep things of God and reveals them to us for direction and leading.
We are living in this dispensation and I strongly recommend that every believer should be attentive to the move of the Holy Spirit and the voice of God by harnessing their receptors in this area so as to not miss out on divine counsel and guidance.
Shalom: Kay King