Dreams are a natural part of our times of our nocturnal rest and recuperation, but sometimes they are the way that God chooses to reveal himself, his will or a course of action that he is prompting us to take.
George Whitfield, referring to Joseph’s dreams about himself says that, “Joseph had more honesty than he had policy, or else he would never have told his brethren of his dreams. Young Christians are too apt to blunder thus: I am sure it is a fault of which I have been exceedingly guilty, speaking of things, which, perhaps, had better been concealed; which is a fault God’s people are too apt to fall into.”
This is an awesome way that God brings revelation. Imagery that penetrates the subconscious mind, passing the normal intellect and the surrounding pains and tribulations of life. Whilst you snore, God speaks and reveals!
GOD SPEAKS THROUGH DREAMS! That is also the testimony of thousands of ex-muslims who have now put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as a result of dreams where He revealed Himself to them!
Not all dreams are from God and we should be careful about the way that we apply and interpret dreams. There are various extensive (and sometimes misleading) teachings about dreams – categories, types, codes, numbers, and interpretive techniques circulating the church.
The good thing about dreams is that you can’t make them happen! There are many reasons why God may chose to reveal Himself or His will in dreams. The simplest by far is that is the way that God has chosen to do it on that occasion.
It has been suggested that the individual sometimes may be too ‘dull’ or ‘unperceptive’ to hear God normally, but there is a problem with that errant teaching.
Here is the problem; to say that God can only reveal Himself to a certain individual at a given time is by revelation in a dream is to limit the divinity of God. That is one reason to not limit God to only revealing himself to the muslim community through dreams – our confidence should always be in the gospel. The gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation. How God chooses to bring the gospel to the lost must be his decision and never ours. God’s ways are higher than ours, and we are never his advisor!
God sovereignly chooses to reveal Himself in dreams because that is what He has chosen, not because of the limitations of our situation. It is not as if we have the phone off the hook, the mobile phone turned off and so He has to communicate through the fax machine!!
Are we really saying that God is limited by His creation? That would mean then that there would be certain things that we could do, if we knew them, that would enhance our ability to have revelation from God. Which then would mean that there are a bunch of books that you need to buy. But don’t.
Scripture is clear that everything we need to know our God, has been freely given to us in Christ.
It is my personal conviction that we have made things far more complicated and mystical than we need to, it may be that some of these techniques rather than helping and assisting, have actually become a stumbling block.
“We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” Gen 40:8
Joseph knew that the key was not in interpretative techniques but that God gives interpretations to the dreams that he gives. That makes sense. If God is seeking to communicate his will or intentions through a dream then it makes sense that he will also give assistance to understand the meaning of that dream so that it can be acted upon.
Joseph – in action interpreting dreams
In Genesis 37:5, Joseph is having dreams and he interprets those dreams. As we learn in the narrative, he has a special gift for dream interpretation, and his dreams and interpretations are accurate and prophetic. He tells his brothers, for example, that one day they will bow to him (which does indeed happen some years later).
But to his brothers his dreams appear to verge on megalomania. And since they know that they are the team that’s supposed to change the world, they think he is endangering the whole future of humanity. They know the family history – that in each generation there was one “bad apple” – first Ishmael, then Esau. So they conclude that Joseph must be the bad one in this generation.
Into prison is thrown Pharaoh’s wine steward and Pharaoh’s baker. And they have dreams. Now as we know Joseph is the master dream interpreter and therefore it’s not surprising that Joseph interprets these dreams and he tells the wine steward that the Pharaoh is going to reinstate him into his position, and he tells the baker that he’s going to lose his head. And that’s exactly what happens.
The cupbearer dream
(Gen 40:9) The chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”
Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer.
The Chief Baker dream
(Gen 40:16) When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head – from you! – and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”
Then the Pharaoh himself has a couple of disturbing dreams. He dreams of seven fat cows coming out of the Nile and being devoured by seven thin cows. And then he has another dream of seven fat sheaves of wheat being devoured by seven thin sheaves of wheat. And he’s very disturbed. If living-god-on-earth-Pharaoh can’t sleep, no one in Egypt sleeps.
The Pharaoh wakes up all his magicians and his soothsayers and his astrologers and none of them can figure out what the dream was about, and then the wine steward says, “I remember, there was this Jewish kid in prison who interprets dreams.” They take Joseph out of prison; they shower him, shave him and bring him before Pharaoh. When he hears the dream, Joseph tells the Pharaoh: “There’s going to be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.”
“What should I do?” asks the Pharaoh. And Joseph says, “You’d better stockpile all the grain in Egypt so that when the famine hits you’ll have what to eat.” Pharaoh says, “You thought of it, you do it.”
So what lessons can we glean from this?
I believe that as we ask God in prayer first of all if He has spoken through a dream, and then what the dream means that He will reveal what He is communicating. Sometimes we have to simply ‘wait on God’ and be patient and continue to enquire of Him and search the scriptures;
“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” Pro 25:2
The essential thing is that God reveals what dreams mean. If we try to work them out with our own predetermined library of personal dream dictionaries we will soon find ourselves with overwhelming difficulties.
The Cupbearer’s dream:
Using the techniques that I have encountered by some, the interpretation may have gone along these lines, “There are some areas in your life that have budded and you are about to fall into the hands of Pharaoh. What type of grape was it? What colour?”
The Baker’s dream
Moses was in a basket when God delivered him. Cakes were in the basket speaking of provision. You are going to provide for the Pharaoh like never before. Everything is going to go well for you! “What kind of cake was it?”
Suffice it to know that Joseph didn’t ask questions about what type of cow it was, if it had been milked or not, whether it was chewing on the cud or not, what colour it was and how old it was.
I appreciate dreams, especially from God. So this is a subject I will ‘unpack’ a little more soon.