Definition: A state of mind in which images, thoughts, and impressions pass through the mind of a person who is sleeping.
1. God can speak to us through dreams.
Genesis 28:12-16 And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to Heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. 16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.
Numbers 12:6 And He said, Hear now My Words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
1 Kings 3:5 In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. [See verses 6-15 for the whole dream]
Job 33:14-17 [Sometimes God can reach us more easily while we are sleeping] For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. 15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; 16 Then He openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, 17 That He may withdraw man from his purpose [keep man from persuing his own plans], and hide pride from man. [See also Psalm 16:7]
Jeremiah 23:28 [If you feel you had a message or prophetic dream, it would be good to tell it to those you can pray and counsel with about it] The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully.
Matthew 1:20 [The Lord instructed Joseph to marry through a dream] But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:17 [God promises to speak to His children through dreams in the Last Days] And it shall come to pass in the Last Days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. [See also Joel 2:28]
2. Warnings through dreams:
Genesis 31:24,29 [The Lord warned Laban not to speak his own words to Jacob, as Laban had been upset with him] And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad. 29 It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
Matthew 2:12,13 [Both the wise men and Joseph were warned of dangerous enemies via dreams:] And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they [the wise men] departed into their own country another way. 13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him.
Matthew 2:19,20 [After the danger was gone, Joseph was told it was safe to return to Israel, again via a dream] But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.
Matthew 2:21-23 [In yet another dream, God warns Joseph of certain dangers which helped him decide specifically where to live with Jesus] And he [Joseph] arose, and took the young child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
3. Prophetic dreams:
Genesis 37:5-10 [Joseph unwisely flaunts the interpretation of a personal prophetic dream to his family, and provokes his brethren to envy and disdain, and gets a rebuke from his father, Jacob. Nevertheless the dream did eventually come to pass] And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. 6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: 7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. 8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. 9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? [Later, after being sold by his brothers as a slave, Joseph is promoted to a place of high honor in Egypt, and his family comes to him begging for food, fulfilling the dream. See chapter 41:38-57]
Genesis 41 [Pharaoh dreamed a troubling prophetic dream. The Lord revealed to Joseph that it was about 7 prosperous years of crops followed by 7 years of famine. This helped save Egypt from starvation and ruin] And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed. 25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what He is about to do. 26 The seven good kine [cows] are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. 27 And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine. 28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do He sheweth unto Pharaoh. 32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.
Judges 7:13-15 [God gives a dream to the enemy of Israel, to encourage Gideon’s faith. It is fulfilled when Gideon’s tiny band of 300 wins over the great army of Midian] And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. 14 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host. 15 And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.
Daniel 2:1,27-47 [Even Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, dreamed a very prophetic dream about the governments of the world and of the Time of the End]
Daniel chapter 4 [King Nebuchadnezzar had another prophetic dream, in which the Lord revealed how proud he had been. The dream also pronounced God’s chastisement on him, which took place shortly afterward, and was used to convert the king to true faith]
Daniel chapter 7 [Daniel received a prophetic dream which confirmed and further developed King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of chapter 2. Both of their dreams have been fulfilled exactly as spoken, except for the remaining portions which refer to the Last Days, which is yet to happen]
4. Others in the Bible who received messages through dreams:
Genesis 20:3 [In a dream God warned Abimelech, the king of Gerar, not to touch Sarah — who he thought was Abraham’s sister — because she was Abraham’s wife] God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. [In another dream God said he would spare Abimelech, because he had not done any intentional wrong to Sarah or Abraham. SeeGenesis 20 for the whole story]
Genesis 46:2-4 [The Lord confirmed to aged Jacob to go see his long lost son, Joseph in Egypt, where the Lord would greatly bless Jacob and his family] And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. 3 And He said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: 4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes [referring to Jacob’s death in Egypt at Joseph, his beloved son’s side].
1 Kings 3:5-15 In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. [Solomon asked for wisdom, and the Lord was so pleased that in addition to granting his request, He also promised him riches and long life]
5. False prophets may sometimes receive what appear to be prophetic dreams, so ask God for discernment.
Deuteronomy 13:1-4 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; 3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him.
Jeremiah 23:25-27a,32 [Dreams made up by false prophets:] I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in My Name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. 26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; 27a Which think to cause My people to forget My Name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour. 32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord. [See also 29:8]
Zechariah 10:2b The diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.
6. Not all dreams are messages from God.
Ecclesiastes 5:3,7 [Even if you dream “busy dreams” with no spiritual significance, just keep following Jesus and His Word] For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words. 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.
Isaiah 29:8a [Sometimes insignificant dreams can be provoked by how we’re feeling before bed] It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite.
Job 4:13-17 [In this case a dream struck fear in Job’s heart, but it was the fear of God, and resulted in his getting a message which he needed to hear] In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, 14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. 15 Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up: 16 It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, 17 Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than His Maker?
Psalm 42:8 [Keeping close to the Lord in prayer and praise helps keep us from nightmares] Yet the Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
Psalm 91:5 [God will protect you in the night] Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.
Psalm 121:4-7 Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. 6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul.
Proverbs 3:24 [A good promise to claim for the Lord’s protection from bad dreams:] When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. [See also Psalm 4:8]
8. Interpretation of dreams is a gift of God.
Genesis 41:15,16 [Joseph gives God the credit for his gift of interpreting dreams] And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. 16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace. [See also verses 12-14; 40:8]
Daniel 2:26-28a,30 [Daniel shows that God is the real interpreter of dreams] The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof? 27Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; 28a But there is a God in Heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the Latter Days. 30 But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart. [See also 1:27b; 4:18]
2 Peter 1:20,21 [True interpretation is not opinion, but by revelation of the Spirit] Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.