Friday, April 24, 2009

God Speaks through Dreams and Visions

“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 NKJV).

The New Testament narrative opens with an explosion of heavenly visitations, many of which occurred in dreams and visions. Take Joseph for example, the husband of Mary. We are told that no less than four times that God spoke to him in dreams with specific guidance. The first is historically influential – “Take Mary to be your wife, and you shall name the baby JESUS” (Matt.1:20-21).

Jesus. His name was revealed in a dream, and knowing Him is a dream come true!

The Wise Men who came to honor the newborn King were warned by God in a dream to avoid Herod and return a different way, for the wicked ruler was already planning a murderous overthrow.

Moving forward in the Book of Acts we discover no less than nine occasions when God spoke through dreams or visions to His followers. Beyond the text of Scripture into the record of Church history, we have repeated accounts in the writings of the early fathers of God speaking to them in dreams and visions – some quite dramatic to read.

The great Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon about a dream he had, said, “We must take care that we do not neglect heavenly monitions through fear of being considered visionary; we must not be staggered even by the dread of being styled fanatical, or out of our minds. For to stifle a thought from God is no small sin.”

Dreams and visions fill the pages of Scripture, and are generously strewn throughout Church history. But for the past few hundred years very little serious attention has been given to this subject at all. It seems that dreams and visions have become God’s neglected gift.

I find the short prose of Henry Longfellow to be the best expression of my own thoughts in this matter:

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they may seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not the goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken to the soul.

Peter said it openly on the Day of Pentecost, “Your young men will see truth from God in visions, and your old men will know about the truth from God in their dreams.” (Acts 2:17, Translators Handbook). This promise is for young and old, male and female, Jew and Gentile – it is a promise for you and me today.

Why not ask God to speak to you in a dream? Be ready to wake up and write it down. Let your attitude be as that found in Song of Solomon, “I sleep, but my heart is awake, listening for the voice of my Beloved” (Song 5:2). Sometimes we are most awake to God when we are asleep to this world!

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