Here is my Psychology class’s question-of-the-week: Many of us wonder whether or not our dreams have meaning. Read Genesis 40:8, Daniel 2:28, Ecclesiastes 5:7, and Jeremiah 23:25-32. What is the biblical position when it comes to the interpretation of dreams? (250 words)
In the following 833 words, I gave my answer:
While reading through the verses above, one seems to encounter two different Biblical viewpoints regarding dreams and the interpretations thereof. Daniel 2:28 informs us that King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was indeed from God, who was revealing to the king what would erelong come to pass. Furthermore, Genesis 40:8 shows that the interpretations of dreams also belong to God. However, Ecclesiastes 5:7 and Jeremiah 23:25-32 seems to tell us that there is vanity and lies in dreams. How shall we reconcile this seeming contradiction?
Before I answer that question, I would like to point out that the above verses make up only a tiny droplet of water in the vast ocean of Biblical references, Old and New Testament, to dreams and those to whom they are sent. I would like to mention the names of Jacob, Joseph, Solomon, Joseph (father of Jesus), and Peter as a few of the many who received divine dreams or visions. Other references to dreams are as follows:
“For God does speak—now one way, now another—though man may not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings” (Job 33:14-16).
“Then He said, ‘Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream'” (Numbers 12:6). How much more clearly could this be stated? Not only that, but it is also quoted directly from the Lord Himself!
Last but not least,
“And it shall come to pass in the last days that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh…. Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17). It appears that this gift of dreaming God-given dreams was not just an ancient occurrence, but will also be present in the last days of this earth’s history.
Now let’s turn back to the verses that seem to say that dreams are false and full of vanity. The best explanation of them comes from Matthew 7:22, 23, which says, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Merely saying that we can cast our demons in the Lord’s name, prophesy in His name, or dream dreams sent from Him does not mean anything! If it did, then anyone could claim they had a vision or dream from the Lord.
So what is the criterion for knowing whether a dream has actually come from God? I quote from the book of Deuteronomy, where God is giving His people instructions as to how to adhere to His law: “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
So here is the answer: If someone claims to have had a dream from the Lord, don’t just brush them off as a mental case, because we know from God’s Word that He does speak to His people through dreams. However, you must carefully examine what the interpretation of that dream is. If it is telling you to go against the words and commandments of God, then you can assuredly know it is not of God–even if that dream makes predictions that come true (Ibid. vrs. 2). Whenever someone tries to entice you to turn away from the Lord, you know that God is not speaking through them or their dreams.