Dreams are an important part of many Biblical stories and passages. They offer insight and foresight into the favored decisions or actions that should be made. Many dreams include visions of divine symbols or the Lord, himself, sharing wisdom that changes the course of history. Conversely, some dreams present a clear example of what could go wrong if the way of God is abandoned. Read the list below of biblical verses mentioning dreams and their importance.
Joseph dreamt at the age of 17!
Joseph was a young man. He was 17 years old. He was taking care of the flocks with some of his brothers. They were the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, the wives of his father Jacob. Joseph brought their father a bad report about his brothers.
Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons. That’s because Joseph had been born to him when he was old. Israel made him a beautiful robe. Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them. So they hated Joseph. They couldn’t even speak one kind word to him.
Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Listen to the dream I had. We were tying up bundles of grain out in the field. Suddenly my bundle stood up straight. Your bundles gathered around my bundle and bowed down to it.”
His brothers said to him, “Do you plan to be king over us? Will you really rule over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dream. They didn’t like what he had said.
Then Joseph had another dream. He told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said. “I had another dream. This time the sun and moon and stars were bowing down to me.”
He told his father as well as his brothers. Then his father rebuked him. He said, “What about this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers really do that? Will we really come and bow down to the ground in front of you?” His brothers were jealous of him. But his father kept the dreams in mind. Genesis 37:2-10
God used dreams and visions (visions are “waking dreams”; see Numbers 24:4) several times in the Bible to communicate with people. Visions seem to have been common enough that their lack was sorely noted. An absence of visions was due at times to a dearth of prophets (1 Samuel 3:1) and other times due to the disobedience of God’s people (1 Samuel 28:6).
Old Testament Dreams and Visions
God used visions in the Old Testament to reveal His plan, to further His plan, and to put His people in places of influence.
Abimelech (Genesis 20:1-7): Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was beautiful—so beautiful that when Abraham came into a new area he occasionally feared that the local ruler would kill him and take Sarah for himself. Abraham told Abimelech king of Gerar that Sarah was his sister (she was his half-sister). Abimelech took Sarah into his harem, but God sent him a dream telling him not to touch Sarah because she was Abraham’s wife. The king returned Sarah to her husband the next morning; the dream had protected Sarah and safeguarded God’s plan for Sarah to be the mother of His chosen people.
Jacob (Genesis 28:10-17): Jacob, with his mother’s help, stole Esau’s firstborn inheritance. Jacob then fled Esau’s anger, and on his journey he had his famous dream of a ladder reaching to heaven on which angels ascended and descended. In this dream Jacob received God’s promise that Abraham’s blessing would be carried on through him.
Joseph (Genesis 37:1-11): Joseph is one of the most famous dreamers, and one of the most famous dream-interpreters, in the Bible. His first recorded dreams are found in Genesis 37. They showed through easily deciphered symbols that Joseph’s family would one day bow to him in respect. His brothers didn’t appreciate the dream and in their hatred sold Joseph into slavery. Eventually, Joseph ended up in prison in Egypt.
Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker (Genesis 40): While in prison Joseph interpreted some dreams of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. With God’s guidance, he explained that the cupbearer would return to Pharaoh’s service, but the baker would be killed.
Pharaoh (Genesis 41): Two years later, Pharaoh himself had a dream which Joseph interpreted. God’s purpose was to raise Joseph to second-in-command over Egypt and to save the Egyptians and the Israelites from a horrible famine.
Samuel (1 Samuel 3): Samuel had his first vision as a young boy. God told him that judgment was coming upon the sons of Samuel’s mentor, Eli. The young Samuel was faithful to relay the information, and God continued to speak to Samuel through the rest of his life.
The Midianite and Amalekite armies (Judges 7:12-15): The pagan enemies of Israel had a divinely inspired dream. God told Gideon to sneak into the enemy camp at night, and there in the outposts of the camp, Gideon overheard an enemy soldier relate a dream he had just had. The interpretation, from another enemy soldier, mentioned Gideon by name and predicted that Israel would win the battle. Gideon was greatly encouraged by this revelation.
Solomon (1 Kings 3:5): It was in a dream that God gave Solomon the famous offer: “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” Solomon chose wisdom.
Daniel (Daniel 2; 4): As He had done for Joseph, God placed Daniel in a position of power and influence by allowing him to interpret a foreign ruler’s dream. This is consistent with God’s propensity to use miracles to identify His messengers. Daniel himself had many dreams and visions, mostly related to future kingdoms of the world and the nation of Israel.
New Testament Dreams and Visions
Visions in the New Testament also served to provide information that was unavailable elsewhere. Specifically, God used visions and dreams to identify Jesus and to establish His church.
Zacharias (Luke 1:5-23): God used a vision to tell Zacharias, an old priest, that he would soon have an important son. Not long after, Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth, had John the Baptist.
Joseph (Matthew 1:20; 2:13): Joseph would have divorced Mary when he found out she was pregnant, but God sent an angel to him in a dream, convincing him that the pregnancy was of God. Joseph went ahead with the marriage. After Jesus was born, God sent two more dreams, one to tell Joseph to take his family to Egypt so Herod could not kill Jesus and another to tell him Herod was dead and that he could return home.
Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19): During Jesus’ trial, Pilate’s wife sent an urgent message to the governor encouraging him to free Jesus. Her message was prompted by a dream she had—a nightmare, really—that convinced her that Jesus was innocent and that Pilate should have nothing to do with His case.
Ananias (Acts 9:10): It would have taken nothing less than a vision from God to convince Ananias, a Christian in Damascus, to visit Paul, the persecutor of Christians. But because Ananias was obedient to God’s leading, Paul regained his sight and found the truth about those he was trying to kill.
Cornelius (Acts 10:1-6): God spoke to an Italian centurion named Cornelius who feared the God of the Jews. In his vision, Cornelius saw an angel who told him where to find Simon Peter and to send for him and listen to his message. Cornelius obeyed the vision, Peter came and preached, and Cornelius and his household full of Gentiles were saved by the grace of God.
Peter (Acts 10:9-15): While Peter was praying on the rooftop of a house in Joppa, God gave him a vision of animals lowered in something like a sheet. A voice from heaven told Peter to kill the animals (some of which were unclean) and eat them. The vision served to show that Christians are not bound by kosher law and that God had pronounced Gentiles “clean”; that is, heaven is open to all who follow Jesus.
Paul: Paul had several visions in his missionary career. One sent him to preach in Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10). Another encouraged him to keep preaching in Corinth (Acts 18:9-11). God also gave him a vision of heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-6).
John (Revelation): Nearly the entire book of Revelation is a vision John had while exiled on the island of Patmos. John’s vision explains in more detail some of the events that God had shown Daniel.
Do you dream? Have you dreamt? Spiritual sleep means your spirit or soul is sleeping inside you. As you sleep during night and wake up in the morning, similarly, your spirit or soul has been sleeping inside you for years. Want it awake? Meditate on The Word daily and watch by God’s AWESOMENESS grace how it WILL become day and night.
Are you a believer? Is this your testimony? “…Whose delight is in the law of The LORD, and who meditates on His law day and night.”
For Thou art my Rock and my Fortress; therefore for Thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.
Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for Thou art my strength.
Into Thine hand I commit my spirit: Thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.
I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in The LORD.
I will be glad and rejoice in Thy mercy: for Thou hast considered my trouble; Thou hast known my soul in adversities;
And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: Thou hast set my feet in a large room.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.
For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.
I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.
I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.
For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.
But I trusted in Thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.
My times are in Thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.
Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant: save me for Thy mercies’ sake.
Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon Thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.
Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.
Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee; which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men!
Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy presence from the pride of man: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be The LORD: for He hath shewed me His marvellous kindness in a strong city.
For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before Thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto Thee.
O Love The LORD, all ye His saints: for The LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.