Summary: to help people have biblical understanding of vision and dream

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ON 06/02/2012




"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams" (Acts 2:17)

Dreams and visions are a Biblical way that God communicates with His people. In this passage we learn that one of the results of being filled with the Holy Spirit would be visions and dreams. In fact, this passage makes it clear that dreams and visions would increase "in the last days.

That visions is a Biblical experience cannot be denied. We read about the visions of such Old Testament saints as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, and many others (Genesis 15:1; 46:2; Exodus 3:2-3; 1 Samuel 3:2-15; 7:4, 17; Isaiah 6:1-8; Ezekiel 1:4-14; Daniel 2:19).

But visions did not stop in the Old Testament, but continued in the New Testament. The apostles Peter, John, and Paul all received visions (Acts 10:9-17; Revelation 1:12; Acts 9:3-12).

But visions were not limited to just the apostles, ordinary Christians such as Ananias received them (Acts 9:10-11). Even a devout Gentile was given a vision by God (Acts 10:3).

The early church after the apostles also continued to experience visions. Polycarp was given a vision that indicated that he was going to be burned alive.

Visions are supernatural perceptions of something naturally invisible to humans. It is something seen by other than normal sight. The Biblical words for vision signify that which is seen. It is supernatural sight. In the Bible visions were for the most part given to individuals, their companions not being privy to the vision. Although visions can be a mode of revelation, they are not necessarily so.

They are revelations only when they disclose hidden truths.

The purposes for which God sends visions and dreams are many


He send them to restrain one from evil (Genesis 20:3).

He send them to guide people and reveal His will to them (Genesis 28:11–22; 46:2–5; Psalm 89:19; Acts 16:9, 10).

He sends them to encourage and comfort people (Judges 7:13–15; Acts 18:9, 10). He sends them to reveal future events (Genesis 37:5–10).

He sends them to warn and to instruct (Matthew. 1:20; Is. 21:2–6; 1 Sam. 3:15–18).

We can classify visions in a number of ways. These classifications help us better understand the nature of visions, they help us better interpret them, and they help us better determine their source.

Awake visions are visions seen when one is awake and conscious of one's surroundings. In other words, an awake vision is one that is received while one is not asleep or in a trance. In one sense awake visions could be considered normal visions, for they are visions experienced in a normal state of mind (Numbers 24:4, 16; Acts 10:17).

Night visions are visions received while one is asleep. The Bible also refers to them as dreams. But the Bible clearly teaches that dreams are nothing more than vision received while asleep (Genesis 46:2; Job 4:13; 20:8; 33:15; Isaiah 29:7; Daniel 2:19, 28; 4:4, 9; 7:2, 7, 13; Acts 18:9).

Night visions are also called dreams. But not all dreams are visions. This is because not all dreams have spiritual significance. Night visions have a basis in spiritual reality, regular dreams do not. Just because you have a dream does not mean that it is a vision.

The dream must have spiritual significance in order for it to be considered a vision. I have had several visions in dreams, the one characteristic of them all is that immediately after I have them I have an inward certainty of their significance. I know that they were not just ordinary dreams.

Trance visions are spiritual visions, which we will discuss later, received while in a trance. The word trance occurs three times in the New Testament (Acts 10:10; 11:5; 22:17).

The Greek word literally means to stand outside yourself or to be put outside of one's normal state of mind. A trance takes place when one's physical senses are suspended. There is a sense of detachment from the physical surroundings. This detachment can have different levels. During a trance one is more conscious of spiritual things than of physical things.

Smith's Bible Dictionary states that, a trance "is the state in which a man has passed out of the usual order of his life, beyond the usual limits of consciousness and volition, being rapt in visions of distant or future things.

Spiritual visions are visions that are seen with the eyes of one's spirit instead of the physical eyes. In these visions the eyes are closed and the vision is seen with the mind's eye. This is the kind of vision Paul experienced on the road to Damascus. Notice what the passage says, "Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one" (Acts 9:8). When Paul saw the light he closed his eyes and did not open them until after the vision passed. Then he opened his eyes, but could not see, because he was now blind.

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