Genesis Day 60: Does God Speak in Dreams?
Imagine, you are having your morning coffee, sitting where you always sit. Across from you is the person who always sits across from you for morning coffee. Then they say, “Last night God spoke to me in dream.”
Now maybe, just maybe, you spilled your coffee on your shirt. Or, maybe your ears perked up, and you said, “Tell me more.”
As I write this post, I am acutely aware of two groups of people: Christians and non-Christians.
Remarkably, within each of those groups, there are people who would accept a “message” from a dream, and people who would reject it. In each group, different reasoning would be at work, but the result would be quite similar.
Interesting—where do you put yourself on this spectrum?
I was moderating a study. It was going quite well. I asked a question of the group that had to do with how God works in His world. The discussion that followed was... well, let’s just politely describe it as interesting.
“David, why did you bring that up?” someone asked. Indeed, why pose such a challenging question for the group? For the same reason that I am today asking about dreams: God speaking to people in dreams seems to be a major thread running through this chapter of Genesis. And people can get squirmy when we talk about God talking through dreams.
But I think you and I need to have the courage to look at the Bible, read it, and ask ourselves, “Do I believe this? If I do, then how am I making sense of it?”
I could politely write my way around it. I could speak of how Joseph had achieved a certain status in jail. I could try and impress you with information about how the two king’s servants probably landed in the slammer because the king got ill after a meal. (Their job, among other things, was to taste the food and drink to ensure it was safe).
But would that be helpful?
When some people read the Bible, they dismiss anything that smacks of the supernatural. Others like to discuss how in the past people put more weight on dreams, but today, given what we know about science and the sub-conscious, we’ve moved past this sort of thing.
All of that is nice, but our text today says, “Does not the interpretations of dreams belong to God?”
Let me therefore simply lay out for you how I think about the question. Please know I expect some of you will disagree.
I think four things:
- God, if He chooses to, can speak to people in dreams.
- People are different. Some people are very in-tune with the dreams they have.
- People use all sorts of inputs to make decisions: dreams, facts, pros/cons, ethics, prayer, God’s Word... which input has precedence?
- If God is speaking to someone in a dream, then He will be consistent with Himself and His Word.
I therefore allow the possibility of God speaking to people in dreams. BUT, earlier I shared my thoughts about How to Follow the Holy Spirit. I think my logic is consistent.
God would never speak to you in a dream and direct you to do something completely inconsistent with His Nature and His Word. Similarly, if 99% of the decisions you make are based on your dreams, and not God and His Word, then you might need to pause and reflect on how you are going about your decision-making.
What do I mean? While God can speak to you in dreams, it doesn’t mean that all dreams are from God.
Yet to 100% preclude God from this space of the dream world, is to limit Him as God—the fancy word is Sovereignty. Isn’t that what Joseph declares?
I would note, that in all the stories in the Bible where God spoke to someone through a dream, or asked them to interpret a dream, He led them to have to take a huge personal risk—for God. We will see this with Joseph tomorrow. We read of it in another Joseph’s life (Mary’s husband). We read of it in the story of Daniel.
My point? God does speak to people in dreams. I personally would be careful asking God to do that with me!