But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream…When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him…
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph…
Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee…Matthew 1:20 & 24; 2:13, 19, 22
In the birth narrative of Jesus, in the first two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, God communicates to Joseph four different times through a dream. This is consistent with other times throughout scripture where God communicates through dreams (to Jacob – Genesis 28:10-17; to Joseph – Genesis 37:1-11; to Daniel – Daniel 7; to pagan kings – Genesis 41, Daniel 2 & 4) In the Old Testament, King Saul expected dreams to be one of the ways, along with the prophets, that God communicated with him (1 Samuel 28:6).
The prophet Joel prophesied of a time when, because every believer would have access to the Holy Spirit, dreams would be a normal method of communication between God and His people. When the Holy Spirit is poured out at Pentecost in Acts 2, Peter recognizes that moment as fulfillment of the Joel prophecy and quotes Joel 2:
“‘In the last days, God says,Acts 2:17-18 (quoting Joel 2:28-29)
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.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
Some people experience more dreams than others. And often, if those dreams are not ignored, God will speak more and more to those kind of people through their dreams. The Holy Spirit has made this possible.
Not all dreams are from God. The three main sources of our dreams are: 1)our sub-conscience (unresolved emotions or food we ate the night before), 2) the Holy Spirit, or 3) the demonic realm. Often dreams from the Holy Spirit will be filled with light, bright colors, a sense of profound meaning, or vivid in details. Dreams from our own sub-conscience won’t feel as weighty with meaning and will often feel disjointed and disconnected. Dreams planted from the kingdom of darkness will often be full of fear, dark, violent, and will have grey and muted colors (if not colorless).
If we have a dream, we need to: 1) write it down (as much as we can remember), 2) pray for discernment as to its origin, 3) pray for discernment about the meaning or interpretation of the dream (dreams are often highly symbolic in nature), and 4) seek out help from discerning people and people with the gift of interpretation to bring understanding to our dreams.
For those who are willing to have eyes to see and ears to hear, God is willing to speak to us through our dreams. We will have to be discerning as we unpack the meaning and solve the riddle that dreams often are. But God doesn’t hide things from us; He hides things for us. Many in the Body of Christ are dreamers gifted with this form of the gift of prophecy and yet have never been trained to utilize this gift for the glory of God.
Are you a dreamer?