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Dreams: What Do They Mean?
By Brian Price 8/10/2010

“I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.” - Jeremiah 23:25
I recently watched the movie called Inception (PG-13) starring Leonardo Dicaprio. It was certainly entertaining. It’s about a man named Dom Cobb who apparently could invade a person’s dreams through the use of a machine. Since he was good at what he did, he was offered a job to plant an idea into a person’s mind by invading his dreams. The target was the son of an entrepreneur who was a competitor in business to the man who hired Cobb. As Cobb and his team prepared and carried out the inception, the viewer discovers Cobb’s past with his deceased wife. Since time was extended to years when one has a dream within a dream, Cobb and his wife lived out 50 years in their own created dream world. Cobb’s wife Mal chose to forget that the world they lived in was false. So when Cobb decided to resurface to reality, he planted the idea in Mal’s mind that their world was not real, and this idea carried over into reality with her. She ended up taking her own life out of despair that her life was not real. At the end of the movie, Cobb was able to return to his home in America to his children from whence he was a fugitive for the death of his wife, and the movie ends with his spinning top spinning on his table, which spins when he’s in a dream, and topples over when he’s in reality. The viewer is left to wonder whether or not if Cobb is still dreaming or not.

Certainly dreams are an interesting subject indeed! So what is it exactly about dreams that makes people so curious about them? Do our dreams mean anything? Or are they just diverse vanities?

First things first. When do we dream? Well, most of our dreams occur when we our eyes are at a state of Rapid Eye Movement (REM). There are different stages of rapid eye movement. The deeper the sleep, the more intense the dream is, naturally. According to Scientific American, there’s really not a lot we really know about dreams*. Some books have been written to show that we can tell the future by our dreams, or we can understand more about ourselves by our dreams. No one really knows for sure…. except God.

*Why Do We Dream? By Scientific American http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-do-we-dream

What we do know is that dreams are used by God to tell us what is coming in the future. Take for example Joseph, the son of Israel.

“5 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.” - Genesis 37:5-8
Joseph, when he was 17 years old, had a dream that one day his brothers would bow down to him. Some may say it was a coincidence that it actually came true, but the Bible gives us insight into the truth that God sent this dream to Joseph to help him have hope when he went through his trials as a young lad. He knew one day that God was going to bring him out of that situation he was in there in Egypt and exalt him to something special for his own purpose of being known throughout the world. This dream came true many years later, when Joseph was exalted to second in charge to Pharaoh over all of Egypt.
“And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.” - Genesis 42:6
Another example of God speaking to someone through a dream is the instance of another Joseph, the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus.
“18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 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. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:18-21
In this instance, this Joseph was informed through means of a dream. He dreamed that an angel spoke to him, telling him about the birth of Jesus. The Bible gives no indication that he doubted for a moment if this was a dream from God because it says that he did as the angel had bidden him (v. 24).

On a less brighter note, the Bible gives examples of those who presume that a dream is from God, when in fact, it is simply a dream out of their own polluted and sinful mind.

“1 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.” - Deuteronomy 13:1-3
In this case, a person who presumes that a dream which instructs one to do evil is from God is supposed to be shunned.

But what is it exactly about dreams that makes people so curious about them? I believe it is those particular dreams that one can control that greatly intrigues people the most. These kinds of dreams are called lucid dreams. They occur when one is aware that he is dreaming. In some lucid dreams, one is completely free to do whatever he wants, and his experiences are so real that though you know you are dreaming, it doesn’t matter because it feels so real.

I have had, on a few occasions, dreams where I knew I was dreaming, and only a couple times did I do anything that I wanted, whether it was good or evil. As a Christian, I have found that I am the most carnal sinner when I am dreaming, which might explain why Jesus said the following: “Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” - Luke 22:46. He knows what we are like in our dreams.

I believe people want to be able to control their world, and to do what they want. I suppose that maybe this is an explanation for people’s interest in dreams (and drugs quite possibly too). It’s an alter-reality. A universe of one’s own control. A place where one is free to do any evil that he so wishes without any restraint. Isn’t that what all human beings desire?

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” - Genesis 6:5
But do our dreams mean anything? Well… it depends. God is still the same today as he was yesterday. The Jesus of the New Testament is the same Jesus of the Old Testament. God never changes.
“And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God?” - Genesis 40:8

“For I am the LORD, I change not.” - Malachi 3:6

The Bible says that interpretations of dreams belong to God. Daniel as we read in his book had to pray to God for an answer as to what the king’s dream meant. Sometimes, we don’t know what our dreams mean. Sometimes we must pray and ask God to reveal to us the answer.

As we read previously about Joseph, God gave Joseph insight into the future about what was going to happen to him. The purpose of the dream was to give Joseph hope for his dark hours ahead of him when his brothers would sell him into Egypt. God told him that one day they would bow down before him. And rightfully so. They were very evil in their dealings with Joseph.

It’s been recorded that Betsie ten Boom, the sister of famous Dutch lady Corrie ten Boom who hid Jews during World War 2, had a dream (or vision) that they would be released from their concentration camp by the New Year. Betsie was released from prison through death on December 16th, 1944. Corrie was released from prison through a mistake in paperwork on December 24th, 1944.

I remember as a young teenager (15 years old maybe), I told my mother about a dream I had as a child. I dreamed that I was outside, and I looked up into the sky because I heard someone yelling, and I saw this great ball of fire with a face open his mouth and swallowed me whole. As soon as he swallowed me up, I awoke. When my mother heard my dream, she broke down into tears. I got saved at the age of 19, and my life has been forever changed by Jesus.

“For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” - Deuteronomy 4:24
She understood what my dream meant. I didn’t, until now. God was showing us that I was going to get saved. I’ve had other dreams where God spoke to me, whether directly or indirectly. But I can tell you from experience that 99.9% of all my dreams have been just that… dreams.
“For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words. “ - Ecclesiastes 5:3

“For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.” - Ecclesiastes 5:7

“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.” - Jeremiah 23:28

God puts the most emphasis on his word more than anything. He says, what’s the chaff to the wheat? Chaff cannot be eaten. Only wheat can. Likewise, a dream has no meat. God’s word, the Bible, is the only thing that really profits. A person ought never to place an experience over the Bible. What the Bible says should reign supreme in the life of every believer. It’s the only way we can test things to make sure they are from God or not. For instance, if you have a dream where God told you to go kill your next door neighbor; the only the way we can know for sure that this dream was not from God is through the Bible. And the Bible says, THOU SHALT NOT KILL (Exodus 20:13).
“Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, DO NOT KILL…” - Mark 10:19
So in conclusion, we can determine that yes, dreams can have meaning. Sometimes they are sent from God to tell the future. They can be sent from God to a believer or an unbeliever alike. As we can see in the scriptures, King Nebuchadnezzar, an unbeliever, had a dream from God telling him that one day an everlasting kingdom would be set up, which would be the kingdom of God. And likewise, a dream was sent from God to Joseph, a 17 year old boy who loved the Lord his God to tell him that one day he would be a ruler for God’s purpose. But more often than not, dreams are frivolous vanities created from our carnal minds for the purpose of entertaining us during the night as we sleep. Indeed, it is much better to trust the Bible rather than our own silly dreams for guidance.