Unfortunately, dreams can also be a means to lead God’s people astray. In other words, just because someone claims to have a dream from God does not mean it is true (or even that he had any dream at all):
Dangerous False Dreams
“Yes,” declares the LORD, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The LORD declares.’ Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the LORD. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the LORD (Jer. 23:31,32).
The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd (Zec. 10:2).
Do Not Listen To Those Dreams
Dreams can actually be lies given in God’s name:
Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD (Jer. 29:8,9).
Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar
There is an almost repeat of Joseph and Pharaoh’s dreams with Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel. This time it was wicked and idolatrous Nebuchadnezzar that had dreams about the future from God:
In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep (Dan. 2:1)
He sought for the interpretation, but wanted another to tell him what his dreams were first. He thought if such could reveal what the dream was, he would also accurately know what it meant. Physical death was the penalty for not knowing it or great material gifts were the reward. The king’s magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers were all unable to help the king with his dreams and angered him to the point that he was going to kill them all. Though Daniel was not in that group, because he was Godly, he was still going to be executed along with them. Wisely, Daniel sought God for mercy and the meaning of the dreams, even though he apparently already had that ability, according to Dan. 1:17:
When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven (Dan. 2:14-19).
The Kings's Mysterious Dreams and The Interpretation
Daniel accurately declared the dream and its interpretation to the king:
You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold. After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy (Dan. 2:31-45).
Nebuchadnezzar's Second Dream
At a later point in time Nebuchadnezzar had another dream from God that frightened him:
I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me (Dan. 4:4,5).
This time Nebuchadnezzar revealed his dream to others for their interpretation. No one was able to interpret it except Daniel:
These are the visions I saw while lying in my bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed. In the visions I saw while lying in my bed, I looked, and there before me was a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven. He called in a loud voice: “Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him” (Dan. 4:10-16).
God In Heaven Rules
Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was perplexed and terrified before he gave the king the dream’s interpretation:
Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air you, O king, are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth. You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, “Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live like the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.” This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue. All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble (Dan. 4:19-37).
It was all over pride that the king himself got humbled like that.
After we read about Daniel interpreting dreams for another, he himself had a dream from God:
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream (Dan. 7:1).
NOTE: The dream from God is described as visions passed through his mind. There must be a close connection between dreams that God gives and visions.
Before Joseph had sexual union with Mary (Mt. 1:18), she became pregnant. Not until after Jesus was born did they have sexual union (Mt. 1:25), but in the time period of her conception, a dream was needed to reassure Joseph about their marriage and not to divorce Mary:
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Mat. 1:20, 21).
That prevented Joseph from quietly divorcing Mary and also reveals how significant the precious name of Jesus is.
Magi wanted to find and worship the newly born king of the Jews, the baby Jesus. They were brought before King Herod and he wanted them to report to him as soon as they found the baby king of the Jews. Afterwards they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod:
And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. (Mat. 2:12).
Murderous Herod wanted to kill the baby. He still tried even after the Magi didn’t return with the information he wanted. But before his soldiers arrived in Bethlehem, Joseph was given another dream—this time about relocating physically:
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him” (Mat. 2:13).
Joseph’s third dream was about coming out of hiding in Egypt, which resulted in moving to Israel:
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel (Mat. 2:19-21).
How they specially moved to Galilee, instead of Judea, was also because of a dream:
But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee (Mat. 2:22).
Dream Of Pilate's Wife
Again, we see that an unsaved person had an accurate dream. This time it was Pilate’s unnamed wife:
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” (Mat. 27:19).
Apparently, her dream caused her misery or suffering, as that Scripture says.
Moses Unlike Others
Getting back to the Old Testament era, we read of an important truth about dreams when God was discussing Moses. While God was exalting Moses above others he has communicated with, the LORD revealed something significant about dreams. He referred to both visions and dreams as riddles. He also stated that when he would communicate with someone with a high spiritual caliper, like Moses, he would not speak in either dreams or visions, but face to face.
He [God] said, “Listen to my words: When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (Num. 12:6-8)
Dreams and visions are, therefore, a lowly but legitimate way that God conveys his message to his servants.
False Prophets Can Accurately Foretell By Dreams
In the following case, the prophet referred to here is really a false prophet—one not sent by God even though the prediction, which came through dreams, comes true:
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deu. 13:1-3).
Please ponder that passage again. Many are unaware of the precious eternal truths cited there.
God has sometimes given his answer for a problem or situation via a dream, but at other times withheld answering in this manner:
He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets (1 Sam. 28:6).
Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” “I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do” (1 Sam. 28:15).
Miscellaneous Dream Passages
I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, “I had a dream! I had a dream!” How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their fathers forgot my name through Baal worship (Jer. 23:25-27).
“Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the LORD. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the LORD (Jer. 23:32).
In conclusion, to be safe from the effects of deception we must carefully examine everything with Scripture, which is our standard of truth. See 2 Tim. 3:16,17. Dreams are no exception to this.
GOD BLESS YOU.
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