You are about to read what the Bible says about dreams. This is a hot topic in our day and should be carefully studied because many have been seriously deceived by dreams. Some actually live their lives based on their own dreams. Chances are you, or someone you know, will sooner or later have to make some kind of important judgment/decision based on a dream. This study on dreams cites every major dream mentioned in the entire Bible. May God be pleased to use this to help clear up confusion about this subject.
All The Dreams In The Bible
Here Is Proof That Unsaved People Can Have A Dream From God
Remember These Bible Truths To Prevent Religious Deception
On Pentecost, Peter spoke the following words which refer back to the book of Joel:
Do They Occur Today?
In the last days, God says, 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 (Acts 2:17).
In part, that was fulfilled that same day Peter spoke those words, but would have to still be relevant today and therefore a definite possibility since we are still living in the last days. In other words, God can definitely speak to people today through dreams.
What The Bible Says About Dreams
The very first time we read of dreams from God is when he delivered a message to an unsaved man about Abraham’s wife:
But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” Now Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands” (Gen. 20:3-5).
Abimelech dialoged with God, while having a dream, which brought about God’s second response to him:
Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die” (Gen. 20:6,7).
This proves one does not have to be anointed, especially close to God or even saved to have a dream or dreams from God. If that unsaved man can have a real dream from God, the same can happen today.
Jacob's Famous Bethel Dream
Jacob was one of the chief characters in Genesis. Regarding him we read:
When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz (Gen. 28:11-19).
God communicated a wonderful promise to Jacob through that dream. Furthermore, that place was not actually the gate of heaven, even though Jacob thought it was (because of his dream). Other Scriptures show the gate of heaven is not a place but a person—the Lord Jesus (John 10:7,9). That wasn’t the only time Jacob ever had a dream from God. In his own words, a different dream appeared like this:
In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. The angel of God said to me in the dream, “Jacob.” I answered, “Here I am.” And he said, “Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land” (Gen. 31:10-13).
This time clear direction as to where to move was given through a dream.
Next we read of Laban’s dream. Laban was Jacob’s father-in-law:
I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad” (Gen. 31:29).
His dream was, therefore, a warning to him, which was similar to Abimelech’s dream. Laban was also an unrighteous man.
Perhaps, if anyone is noted for having dreams from God and knowing the future because of such, it was Joseph. His dreams from God started at the age of seventeen (Gen. 37:2).
Joseph, The Dreamer
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 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.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind (Gen. 37:5-11).
Those two dreams were easily understood by others who heard them, but that is not always the case, as you will observe. Also, the fulfilment of Joseph’s dreams occurred many years later after various events transpired. In fact, at that time Joseph was in the palace, as second in command, only under the Pharaoh:
Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected” (Gen. 42:9).
Joseph, The Dream Interpreter
Joseph also had the ability, given to him from God, to interpret dreams. In the following two cases for the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, and later for Pharaoh, it was unsaved people who had those dreams from God:
Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?” “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.” “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer” (Gen. 40:1-13).
In that particular dream, the three branches were three days. (The cupbearer’s dream was not as easy to interpret with an apparent meaning as Joseph’s initial dream.) Next it was the king’s chief baker’s turn to express his dream of the future. He too hoped for a favorable interpretation but didn’t get it:
When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat away your flesh.” Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand, but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation (Gen. 40:16-22).
This time three baskets equaled three days and the dream was about his future death.
This pagan king’s dreams about the future were significant and led to many important events, including Joseph getting into the palace. After Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s ability to accurately interpret dreams, he sent for him. Joseph acknowledged that God would let Pharaoh know the meaning:
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up. "In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none could explain it to me.” Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine. “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon. And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.” The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt” (Gen. 41:15-44).
Notice: In Pharaoh’s dream:
● the 7 good cows = 7 years
● the 7 good heads of grain = 7 years and both good cows and good heads of grain were of the same time frame
● the 7 ugly cows and 7 worthless heads of grain = 7 years of famine of the same time frame
● 7 years of abundance would be followed by 7 years of famine
Hence, his dream foretold of future events and how to prepare for a horrible, wide-spread famine of seven years. It was through those dreams and subsequent interpretations that Egypt was prepared for their rough future ahead. In fact, people traveled to Egypt to buy grain at that time.
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Gideon overheard his enemies speak of a dream someone had and the interpretation another one of them gave to that same dream. Both of those men were ungodly, yet the interpretation was accurate:
Gideon Encouraged By A
Dream From the Enemy
Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.” His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.” When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands” (Judg. 7:13-15).
From that we learn that dreams can also be a source of encouragement.
Just like others, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and had a conversation with him which resulted in his special God-given abilities. Solomon was Godly at this point:
Solomon's Dream From God
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream (1 Ki. 3:5-15).
READ About Solomon And His Apostasy
Some Dreams Are Natural
And Come To All
A very important point to remember about dreams is that not every dream is from God. Some dreams are natural and have nothing to do with communications with God. Solomon, who knew that God speaks through dreams, was not obsessed with them, like some people. He also knew the truth about dreams being of natural origin too:
As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words (Eccl. 5:3).
Hence, life’s anxieties can bring about certain dreams. But that is not all. Being deprived of the necessities for life can also result in dreams that have not originated from God:
As when a hungry man dreams that he is eating, but he awakens, and his hunger remains; as when a thirsty man dreams that he is drinking, but he awakens faint, with his thirst unquenched. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion (Isa. 29:8).
Hence, dreams can come because one is hungry or thirsty. At other times we also read that dreams are natural and come to all, even Israel’s spiritually blind leaders in Isaiah’s day:
Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep (Isa. 56:10).
To continue to read, click Dreams In The Bible II
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