For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword. Job 33:14-18
How often do we downplay our dreams as mere imagination? Perhaps education has taught us too well that dreams are simply our unconscious selves; moving pictures bearing our deepest fantasies, hopes, and nightmares. Maybe there are slivers of truth in that, but perhaps dreams are so much more?
If we believe that God is powerful enough to speak to our hearts and minds at any time He pleases, then we should open ourselves up to the possibility that God can speak to us while we sleep. In Job 33:14-18, we see that “…when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds, he [God] may speak in their ears… .” This passage shows us that God speaking while we sleep is not just a possibility; it is a Scriptural reality!
In the Bible, we see accounts of people who were given dreams by God to warn them or give them glimpses of the future. We have Joseph, son of Jacob/Israel, who received dreams and interpreted them. Daniel of the Old Testament also had a similar gift. In the New Testament, we see God warning Joseph the husband of Mary to flee to Egypt through a dream. If these dreams were never heeded by these people, then imagine what could have happened!
If God spoke to people through dreams before, then He can do so again. Our Lord, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, does not change!
The symbols in our dreams have a way of connecting together memory and story (albeit often disjointed). We can draw out meaning from them in the same way we draw out meaning from the narratives and parables in the Bible. In a sense, calling our dreams “the parables of the night” is a valid description since they require the unearthing of a treasure chest called interpretation.
When it comes to interpretation, we always check with God. We ask Him if these dreams are first of all from Him. We also check if they align with Scripture. We ask God for meaning and ask Him to confirm this through Scripture and through circumstance.
God gives us clues to the meaning of dreams. Again in Job 33, 14-18, we see that dreams can either be (1) directional, “to turn them [people] from wrongdoing (2) pre-emptive, “keep them from pride” (2) a warning, “to preserve them from the pit (4) a preserving, of “their lives from perishing by the sword.” We can ask God directly, “What do these dreams mean?” Since the Holy Spirit can teach us all things and bring all things to our remembrance (see John 14:26), then we can go directly to Him and ask Him to reveal to us the interpretation of our dreams. We can say, “God, what is it that you are wanting to say? Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears!”
The topic of dreams is a big and broad one. Yet I believe it is good to take our very first steps into this colorful arena by acknowledging that dreams can be a vehicle for the voice of God. While sleep visits our eyes, the Lord Himself releases HIS song. “By day the Lord directs his love, at night, his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life” (Psalm 42:8). What is HIS song that is with us? And does His song spur our spirits to pray/ speak with Him while we sleep? It is a wonderful mystery! Adding to this verse is Job 35:5 which says, “…Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night…” Perhaps we should train ourselves to listen to God’s little lullaby over us? We can take comfort in the fact that God’s sheep hear His voice, and that if a dream mystifies us, we can always go to Him and ask Him about it.
Let’s engage these night parables of song with an openness and a desire to know more. I bet our Father longs for us to know His voice in the night.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.