Dreams have fascinated, mystified and frightened mankind since the dawn of time. Today, we seem to have developed a propensity for ignoring dreams; but ancient man found dreams to be a natural source for myths, fables and legends. There were even those who believed that, for special individuals, dreams were a form of communication from spiritual beings. Dreams, should a Christian be willing to look deeper into them or should they just be ignored?
The following is a record of the dream an individual had some time ago.
I was standing in a great valley that was devoid of all living things. Large mountain ranges filled the distance before and behind me, and they stretched to the right and the left as far as the eye could see. It was a dark and dreary land with a most unpleasant feeling about it.
As I stood there, a movement far off to my right caught my attention. Soon I could see giant men walking through the valley. Each giant had a sack slung across his chest and as they walked through the valley they were broadcasting seed. I stood very still and watched them pass by me. It was awesome! They must have been 200 feet tall or more and when they broadcast the seed it looked like dark clouds floating to earth.
They were hardly out of sight when the valley began to sprout in green, and as I watched in wonder I saw grass, trees, and bushes spring up from the valley floor. Then beautiful clear blue waters began to flow in the, once dry, streambed that ran the length of the valley.
I had not moved a single step from where I was when I first found myself in the valley. I stood there marveling at how the green plants and the blue waters had totally transformed the image of the valley. Once again, I noticed movement far off to my right. This time a single giant, larger than the others, came through the valley broadcasting seed. I watched him pass and stood in anticipation of what would spring up, but nothing did.
When we talk about dreams we are talking about a mysterious human activity. Dreaming may be something we all do; yet, dreaming is also something we have no control over. We cannot dream what we want to dream when we want to or in the fashion we want to. We cannot control dreaming and having no control over dreaming is something we humans are not very comfortable with. Most of us can control our thought processes but when we are dreaming control is turned over to something else; but what is in control of our dreaming? From scripture, we know that we are made up of four basic parts: the physical body, the mind, the soul and the spirit. We know this because, in his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes: I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (5:23). We also know that Mark wrote: And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength (12:30). We humans are body, mind, soul and spirit; we humans dream.
I think that most people would agree with our mind being the number one candidate for having control over our dreaming, or at least that our mind is where dreaming takes place. Most of us have also experienced times when bodily fatigue, aches and pain seem to have influence our dreaming, but our body was not in control of the dreaming process. We all have probably experienced times when some event in our lives has resulted in our dreaming about that event. The event influenced our dreaming but it was not in control of the dreaming process. Least we forget our soul and spirit we need to consider their influence or control over the dreaming process. We have a soul and a spirit but I have no earthly idea if our soul or spirit can control the dreaming process. My Christian training leads me to believe that the soul and spirit may influence dreaming but to what degree I do not know. Dreaming is a mysterious activity of the human mind.
We know that the mind is certainly involved in dreaming but do dreams originate only in the mind or is there something else? Our conscious mind, the part we knowingly use every day, only takes up a very small portion of our brain’s activity. There are some who say as little as just 10% of our brain capacity. Anyway, it is a fact that dreaming is not a conscious brain behavior, which means that it must originate somewhere outside the realm of conscious brain activity … but where?
There are two basic perspectives on the origin of dreams. First, men and women of science claim that the brain is like a computer. We acquire information, which we process, use and store. Scientist claim that dreaming is just our mind trying to retrieve and process data; but without our conscious control over the functions of imagination and creativity. Sometimes this lack of control can result in our dreams being filled with chaos, confusion and strange events. From a scientific point of view, dreams can be an indication our mind is focused on something specific but more often the dream is just random uncontrolled data processing. There are other people; however, who believe a dream can be communication from our body, from our mind, from our spirit and even from the spirit world. These people do not discount the scientific explanation for dreaming; they just add to it a spiritual perspective.
As a scientist I have no issues with the scientific explanation for dreaming; but as a Christian, the spiritual explanation makes me a bit uncomfortable. I readily admit the Bible is full of references to dreams and dreaming. In fact, dreams and visions are mentioned over 200 times in the Bible. The dreams mentioned in scripture are spiritual in nature, which primarily deal with communications from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We cannot immediately dismiss spiritually influenced and/or controlled dreaming but we must remember that every biblical dream and vision was of special spiritual significance.
Has God grown silent?
The Holy Bible is full of examples of God communicating to people through dreams; but how sure are we that God is still talking to man through dreams. After all, in the first chapter of Hebrews the author says: “ God, who at many times and in many ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” You cannot get a more authoritative communication from God than scripture itself. As a mature Christian, I am thoroughly convinced that scripture provides us with the complete, inerrant and final revelation of God’s will for mankind. This is not to say that I believe God is limited to only communicating through the written word, as it is recorded in the Holy Bible. But, we must temper our look into dreaming with the fact that we already have with us the essential communications from God: in the form of scripture.
Scripture is the only authoritative source of Godly communication, but that certainly does not mean God never communicates with His people at other levels. Have you never listened to a song, which touched your soul so powerfully that you lost sight of your surroundings and were carried away in your spirit? When the song ends you are jerked back to reality and you kind of feel sad because you miss the wonder of being caught up in the song. Is this experience the product of your own mind or is it a special touch from God. I don’t know about other folks, after all there are some very godly people out there; but I know that my human mind cannot be the source of such glory. When I hear a special testimony and tears flow down my cheeks it is not my doing … it is the Spirit of God moving my spirit in ways that are too deep for human understanding. When a portion of scripture leaps out and overwhelms my mind with the power of its message I am driven to believe God is communicating with me. When I am moved to stop and give a hitchhiker a ride, or to give twenty dollars to a panhandler instead of five, I do not analyze the situation: I try to do what I feel led to do. I pass up many hitchhikers and seldom give out a twenty-dollar bill; but when I am moved to do so I don’t question or second-guess the situation. You see, I believe God still communicates, on a personal level, with His people today … and perhaps God even uses dreams for His purpose. Yes, the Bible is our only source of Christian authority; but when we are asleep our mouths are shut and we are not actively lusting for things we do not need: this may be the only time God can get His message through to us.
The following is a record of the dream an individual had some time ago.
I was once again in the valley where I had watched the giants broadcasting seed. The valley was still green and beautiful, but there was a new addition. Scattered throughout the valley floor were buildings in various stages of construction, and made from differing materials. At each building site there were a number of men engaged in work or conversation. Once thing was most noticeable, all the buildings were being built on identical foundations. Each foundation looked as if it were made of stonewalls and a concrete slab poured on top.
As I gave careful attention to the building sites I noticed that some men were building in stone, some were building in wood, and some were just sitting on the foundations doing nothing. I had no sooner made this observation then I noticed what appeared to be low hanging clouds far off to the right, in the upper most reaches of the valley. I stood and watched the clouds with intense concentration. It was almost as if I traveled in my mind to the location of the clouds and once there I saw that they were not clouds but smoke. Underneath the clouds of smokes was a raging fire that was sweeping down the valley.
As soon as I became aware of the danger I was instantly back where I started. I began to shout to the people that a great fire was sweeping down upon them. I was frantic to get them to listen to me, but no one would. No one but the very few who were constructing their buildings out of stone and had them almost complete. With my warning these people increased their efforts to finish the buildings but they did not seem to be very alarmed. Everyone else ignored my warning.
I do not know what happened.
God is Still Communicating … Are We Listening?
We know that God’s communication with man through dreams was not uncommon in the Bible. Jacob’s dream about the ladder and angels, as recorded in Genesis 28:10-16, is probably one of the most famous dreams of the Old Testament … at least it is one of my favorites. God’s use of dreams for communication; however, did not end with the Old Testament. In the New Testament it is recorded that God continued to communication with man through dreams. In the first two chapters of Matthew it is written that God communicated to Joseph through dreams. In Acts 9:10 God communicated with Ananias through a dream or vision. It is also recorded in the New Testament that: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). So, we know that God’s communicating with man through dreams neither ended with the Old Testament nor with the apostolic period of the New Testament church.
For people of both the Old and New Testament there was a common perception that a sleeping person’s mind is freeded from earthly concerns and thus they are more open to divine messages from God. No matter how complex or discomforting a dream might be, the ancients always left room for it to be a communication from God. That is not an easy thing for a modern Christian to do: even when we know that scripture tells us God can communicate with man via dreams. Yes, God can communicate with us through dreams; but, we must be very careful not to believe that such a communication can add to the revelation of God’s will for man, as recorded in the Holy Bible. A dream, even a dream that is a communication from God, can be of no theological or doctrinal position external to the Bible. A dream, which is a communication from God, must be for Christian edification or to illuminate already revealed information. To believe that a dream can add revelations to theology or doctrine is to say that the Bible is not the final, inerrant and complete revelation of God’s divine will for mankind.
The following is a record of the dream an individual had some time ago.
After prayer with the pastor of the church where I had fled from the pulpit, I returned home. By bedtime that evening I had, for the most part, put the issue behind me. God had not however. I spent most of the night in a long sequence of dreaming and waking up then dream and wake up. All night long the dreams were a continuation of one major theme.
The dream started with a person that I know, and his wife, who were in the woods and they were retrieving things from a very deep and dark pool of water. They used a long pole that had a gripper attached to one end. One of the objects they retrieved from the pool was a small jar that had a figurine of two dancing horses in it. The horses were standing on their hind legs and dancing like humans. The pool of water, and what they were doing, made me very uncomfortable.
It was after being at the pool of dark water that I found a large hole in the ground. Air was rushing into the hole and as I looked into the hole I became very frightened. As I stood looking at the hole a woman walked up to me. She said that she was a professor at the university and that she knew what the hole was all about. She assured me that I should not be concerned about the hole and that I should leave the area. She did not give me any explanation for my need to leave the area she just urged me to do so.
I do not remember the first little man coming out of the hole. I do remember that a fat little man came out of the hole and soon began to pursue me. He was only about 24 inches tall, fat, and bald headed. The next thing that is still clear to me is that I eventually was trying to get away from two or three little men. I had left the woods and entered a small town. I ran into a small public rest room and a little man was trying to force his way into the room. He kept reaching out his arm with a little yellow pill in his hand saying: “Take it, everyone else has. It is good for you.” Behind the little man was a large crowd of humans who were all encouraging me to take the pill. I escaped through a back window.
As the night wore on, I found myself in a constant battle where I would talk to and pray with people to help them keep from taking the pill. During all of this time my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson would be in and out of my dreams. I spent a large time keeping my grandson out of the hands of people who thought taking the pill was just wonderful.
At one point my son was in charge of some men who were building a concrete block wall, about 10 feet by ten feet, around me. Once the wall was built the little men could not get to me and try to push their pill.
Later in the dream I was no longer protected by the wall and the little men, and the humans who followed them, became much more threatening. Much time was spent in running and hiding from them.
At one point in the dream I had a confrontation with two very large transparent bluish colored dragon-like creatures, which could just materialize out of the air. It was not a physical battle as much as it was a battle of wills. I won; but only because a force field appeared between the dragons and me. The power of the dragons could not get through the force field.
The last thing I remember is being very tired and dirty. It was dark out, but it was daytime. I was kneeling on a wet dirt road with my son, daughter-in-law, and one or two other people. It was lightly raining for I can remember looking at my daughter-in-laws face and seeing where little streams of water were washing clean places in an otherwise very dirty face. I had a hard time getting my daughter-in-law to join hands with us but she eventually did. I was praying that these people could resist the urge to take the pill.
The dream ended!
The three dreams illustrated in this sermon are strange and discomforting, which makes it very easy to ignore them and to dismiss the old man who told us about them. But then, what else can we do? Do we want to take the time to study them, to pray about them, to analyze them or to look for scriptural implications in them? If we give any credulence to this old man, and his dreams, we might end up with a flood of individuals wanting to tell us about their dreams. Lets face it, Christian leaders have far better things to do than to listen to people tell us about dreams. Yes, I am only being facetious; but, we must admit that strange and discomforting dreams are not what most of us want to hear.
In all honesty, I am a bit uncomfortable with the notion that God might communicate through dreams and visions. If a fellowship were to acknowledge this possibility it could be like opening Pandora’s box. How would we deal with the people who believe God is talking to them through dreams? If we give more attention to Kara’s dream than we do Violet’s dream we could end up dividing the flock! I cannot help being a fussbudget over this dreaming thing. It is so alien to us I cannot imagine how we could handle it. Yet, I cannot keep from thinking: “is it possible God is still trying to communicate with His people through dreams? If He is, I wonder what He thinks about our ignoring them?” Have we modern Christians become so sophisticated that we do not have time for God: time for God to communicate with us in the old ways?
Christians have Jesus Christ, God’s divine word and He is the ultimate source for having revealed God’s will to the world. Everything that had to be said has been said. Anything that is said today, even when it contains the truth, is only inspired illumination or explanation of what we already know. There are no new revelations or doctrines. Sorry I am being so stiff necked. But, if God were to communicate new revelations or doctrines, through dreams and visions, they would be something we would have to add to scripture. Who would judge which dreams and visions were from God? We would be in a perpetual process of editing and adding to scripture: this would be chaos. God is not the author of chaos! Jesus gave us the revelation of God’s will for man; and as for dreams from God … well … I suppose they could be viewed as God’s current events and edifications.
I am sure that God does communicate to us via dreams and visions but I am just not sure how to deal with this form of communication. Perhaps, if God were to send us an email, go on Facebook or text us we might be more apt to listen … nah, we probably would not even listen then. Maybe we need to talk more about the role of dreams and visions in the growth of a fellowship or our own personal growth as a Christian. Maybe we will start listening for God’s communication in dreams; but probably we won’t.
I wonder what we are missing!