In Joel 2:28, God promised, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.” Dreams and visions are two ways God speaks to His children. Throughout Scripture, God uses them to free the downtrodden, liberate nations and turn hearts back to Him.
Dreams and Visions in the Bible
The word dream appears 87 times in the Old Testament and eight times in the New Testament. Similarly, the word vision appears 86 times in the Old Testament and 17 in the New Testament. While the notion of divine dreams and visions may seem unusual to us, it’s not unusual to God. Just look at how He spoke through dreams and visions to many leaders and prophets under the Old Covenant:
- Abraham –Genesis 15
- Jacob –Genesis 46
- Samuel –1 Samuel 3
- Nathan –2 Samuel 7
- Ezekiel –Ezekiel 1, 8, 11, 37 and 43
- Daniel –Daniel 7.
Then, under the New Covenant, God spoke through dreams and visions to:
- Peter, James and John –Matthew 17
- Stephen –Acts 7
- Paul – Acts 9; Galatians 1; 2 Corinthians 12.
While these are not exhaustive lists, they do convey the truth that dreams and visions were not unusual or unlikely in Bible times, and the same is true today. God continues to speak to His people in this fashion. For Spirit-led believers, these prophetic moments can be opportunities to redirect, refocus and reconnect to the plans and purposes of their heavenly Father.
When Is a Dream or Vision From the Lord?
Of course, not every dream and vision is from the Lord. The enemy, whose purpose is to destroy and cause havoc, will try to lead you astray with false revelations. The Bible warns us that the enemy “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). He’ll use dreams and visions to sow seeds of doubt, discouragement and ungodly direction for the unsuspecting believer. First John 4:1, KJV, says, “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.” And while this passage is speaking specifically about false prophets, the message is the same—test the truth.
- Test Dreams and Visions Against the Word
If a dream or vision tries to convince you of something contrary to the Word of God, it is not from the Lord. He will never contradict His Word. First Peter 1:25 promises that “the word of the Lord endureth for ever” (KJV). It will never change or become irrelevant. Therefore, we can hold it up as the absolute truth by which we judge our dreams and visions. Second Timothy 3:16 states that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (KJV). If what we dream or envision contradicts the Word, it is false and not to be trusted.
- Test Dreams and Visions in Prayer
If a dream or vision comes from the Lord, it only stands to reason that He is the best person to confirm it. “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come” (Jeremiah 33:3). How do we go about doing this? We pray in the Name of Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit to confirm what we believe the dream or vision is saying.
Praying in the Name of Jesus is key because demons cannot operate or gain control in Jesus’ presence (1 Corinthians 12:3). As born-again children of God, we operate in the same authority as Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20). He is our covering. Just look at Luke 10:17, “When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, ‘Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!’” We can be sure that if a dream or vision is from some other source, we can resist and drive it away with the Name of Jesus.
- Test Dreams and Visions with Spiritual Counselors
Dreams and visions often confirm what the Spirit of God has already been speaking to the Body of Christ. That’s why it’s good to share our dreams and visions with trusted, Spirit-led believers and ask them to join with us in prayer about them. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.” Together, we’ll be able to stand in faith for the interpretation and application of our dreams and visions.
In these last days, dreams and visions will become more and more common. It is part of our spiritual inheritance as Spirit-led believers. So let us welcome God-ordained dreams and visions, and let the Holy Spirit direct us in blessing the Body of Christ and leading the lost to Him through them.