Summary: God speaks to Christians through the voice of the Holy Spirit instead of dreams or visions.
Last week we talked about dreams. We mentioned the dreams of Jacob, Abimelech, Joseph, the butler and the baker. All of these dreams involved some object or person.
For example, Jacob dreamed of a ladder that reached from the earth up into heaven. He saw angels descending and ascending the ladder and God was at the top of the ladder. (Genesis 28:12-13)
God appeared to Abimelech in a dream and told him that he was a dead man because he was about to commit the sin of adultery. He had taken Sarah to be one of his women. Up to this point, no sin had been committed.
Then God spoke to Abimelech again in a dream and said, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her” (Genesis 20:6).
Then there was Joseph the young seventeen-year-old son of Jacob. Joseph had 11 brothers who were not real fond of him. They were jealous of Joseph because Jacob showed more preference or favoritism toward Joseph. Another reason they did not like Joseph is they felt more work and responsibility was placed upon them and less placed upon Joseph.
Scripture tells us, “Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpha, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them” (Genesis 37:2). We are not told what the brothers were doing or not doing but whatever wrong they did Joseph reported to his father.
Perhaps Joseph had an ego problem and always wanted to be in the lime-light or he wanted to be first in his father’s eyes. Maybe he felt insecure because of the brothers. On the other hand, Joseph could have felt superior to his brothers. If superiority was an issue, it was reinforced when his father gave him the beautiful “richly ornamented robe” of many colors.
This robe of many colors appears to be like one worn by royalty or one in charge. Nevertheless, the robe was special and it was only for Joseph. Whenever one person is singled out, by parents, employer, friends, pastor, teacher or anyone else, there is a thing called favoritism that surfaces and jealously enters the picture.
Favoritism brings about jealously and jealously is a sin. We should not want or expect to have what others have or to be treated in such a way that it elevates our ego and causes friction with people around us.
In Joseph’s situation, he was already behind the 8 ball with his brothers. They did not like him before he gave his father a bad report: before he had his dreams: and certainly before he received the robe of many colors.
After Joseph had his first dream he just couldn’t wait to share it with his brothers. Scripture says, “He told it to his brothers, and they hated him even more” (Genesis 37:5). Joseph was adding fuel to a situation that was already aflame.
Joseph said to the brothers, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it” (Genesis 37: 6, 7). The brothers immediately said to Joseph, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” (Genesis 37:8).
Joseph was not satisfied with just keeping his thoughts to himself. If Joseph had not said anything, I wonder what would have happened. Obviously the whole story would have changed and the outcome would most likely have been different.
I don’t believe it was God’s intention to have Joseph keep the dream to himself. I say that because God spoke to Joseph in another dream using different objects, but retaining the same ending.
Joseph said to his brothers and his father, “Listen, I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me” (Genesis 37:9).
God had given Joseph this dream or this vision and there was no way Joseph could keep it to himself. God was acting through Joseph. Joseph’s relationship with God and faith in God enabled him to share the good news with his brothers and father.
The dream or vision Joseph had is similar to the Holy Sprit speaking to our hearts. When the voice of the Holy Spirit speaks to us, we are to listen and act on the request. Joseph listened to God through the dreams and then acted on what he heard and saw. Joseph did not know what was going to happen to him down the road, but he was faithful to God and shared the dreams with his father and brothers.