Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the Earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. (Psalm 90:1-2)
And The LORD God formed Man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. (Job 33:4)
LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am. (Psalm 39:4)
Is there not an appointed time to Man upon Earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling? (Job 7:1)
In Whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all Mankind. (Job 12:10)
My times are in Thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. (Psalm 31:15)
Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with Thee, Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; (Job 14:5)
If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. (Job 14:14)
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16)
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; (Ecclesiastes 3:2)
And all the inhabitants of the Earth are reputed as nothing: and God doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the Earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35)
I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: Thy years are throughout all generations. (Psalm 102:24)
For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring. (Acts 17:28)
Precious in the sight of The LORD is the death of His saints. (Psalm 116:15)
Meditating on The Word it came to me – the history of Israel was known a lifetime before it came to be! Jacob wrestling with the angel is described in Genesis. The “angel” in question is referred to as “man” and “God” in Genesis, while Hosea references an “angel”. The account includes the renaming of Jacob as Israel. In the Genesis narrative, Jacob spent the night alone on a riverside during his journey back to Canaan.
So, Israel had children Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. Joseph born to Jacob/Israel was born with his ‘mission.’ And dreamt about what would be, yet he was reprimanded by Jacob/Israel: His first reported dream is about the bowing sheaves of wheat (Genesis 37) while he is young and living at home with his father and 11 brothers. The second dream about the sun and moon and stars bowing to 1 star.
His first reported dream is about the bowing sheaves of wheat (Genesis 37) while he is young and living at home with his father and 11 brothers. Rather than his own hubris however, it is actually his brothers who interpret from Joseph’s dream that they are the sheaves of wheat that bow down to his sheave, and infer that Joseph is planning to rule over them. The brothers are not actually dream interpreters– but Joseph is. So when his brothers try to interpret his dream and accuse him of planning to subjugate them, it is their overlay on it that we read.
It would seem that the skinny on biblical dream interpretation is that it corresponds with our modern view that the dreamer is the final expert–others cannot assume to know the true meaning of the dream unless the dreamer concurs. It is the brother’s projections of what they fear this dream means that we read about, not what Joseph is actually saying at this time. We find at the end of the Joseph saga however, that without knowing his identity, the brothers do in fact bow down to him as they ask for relief from the famine in their land, as he is Pharaoh’s right hand man. The future was contained in this dream, although they did not know it at the time. While that was not Joseph’s intention, it was what their future unfolded.
Here’s another dream layer: the potential that our dreams contain our future. How might our lives be different if we could recognize when we were “seeing around the corner of time”, if you will; and thus plan accordingly?
If you recall, earlier in the story, Joseph’s brothers are envious of their favored younger brother and conspire to kill him. The text actually says that they want to kill him because “he is a dreamer” (Gen. 37). The brothers are threatened by his dreams/visions, and it is his future that they want to kill off. This theme unfortunately continues to be true in our lives today- how many have been killed over the millenniums because their dreams or visions did not match up with their neighbor’s?
Joseph’s first dream, the sheaves, is about earthly matters: food, wheat, sustenance. It is the prequel to the dream of Pharaoh that is brought to Joseph many years later while he is imprisoned in jail. Word got out about his skills in interpreting the cupbearer’s and the baker’s dreams while he was imprisoned, and so he is brought to interpret Pharaohs dreams of the 7 fat and 7 lean sheep. In fact, the importance of that dream is doubled since Pharaoh also dreamed a similar dream about 7 healthy ears of corn and 7 shriveled ears. (We know that when a symbol or event is doubled or repeated in a dream, the message is of particular significance.) Once again, these dreams are concerned with food, sustenance, and the earth: By interpreting this dream correctly, Joseph averts a famine and saves the people.
Joseph’s second dream is about heavenly or spiritual matters. In this one, the sun, the moon and the stars were bowing down to him. His brothers freak out again when they hear this second dream, and they accuse him of thinking that they and his parents represent the sun, the moon and the stars who are to bow down to him. Joseph actually never makes that interpretation though. Though seem obvious, it is the others who again superimpose their own projections of envy and anger onto him. We’ve all had dreams where we had the position of “observer” as a dream story unfolds, this is the perspective that Joseph had in this dream. It is like watching a movie, instead of starring in it, and provides a different perspective.
I learned that the key to understanding this second dream is that Joseph accepts the mantle of divine will, and recognizes that he has a sacred life purpose. This mantle of divine purpose is in contrast to his youthful first “coat of many colors”. Joseph’s “hero’s journey”, as Joseph Campbell writes, is about relationship repair and reconciliation of brethren, carrying on the thread of the theme “am I my brother’s keeper?” that we were introduced to early on in Genesis in the story of Cain and Able. Joseph is able to forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery at the end of Exodus. He accepts the mantle of being his brother’s keeper in a way that Cain could not, as Joseph provisions his brothers against the famine in their own land. Joseph answers this question by saying, in effect, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I am my brother’s keeper”. How do we answer that question in our own lives today?
Peter and a group of about 120 disciples are in Jerusalem and have just received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–4). The Holy Spirit enables the disciples to speak in different languages. A large number of Jews from all over the Roman Empire, in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost, are puzzled about how these Galileans can speak their native languages and thus communicate with such a diverse crowd so personally (Acts 2:8). Peter shows how this event is related to Old Testament prophecy, specifically Joel 2:28–32. Acts 2:17 quotes Joel 2:28.
In the book of Joel, God uses the devastation of a locust swarm as a metaphor for how He will judge Judah if they don’t repent. If they do repent, He will pull away His judgment and give them signs that He has done so. A primary sign is that He will “pour out [His] Spirit on all flesh.” The very morning described earlier in the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit came down to dwell in the Jesus-followers, just as Jesus promised He would (John 14:15–17). For Jesus-followers, the Holy Spirit will reveal to them the truth and the “things that are to come” (John 16:13). To unbelievers, He will “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).
This very moment is proof. The Holy Spirit is guiding Peter into the truth of Old Testament prophecy, something the disciples were not very good at during Jesus’ ministry. And He is guiding Peter’s audience into repentance (Acts 2:37–41).
Throughout the early years of the church, this verse continues to be proven. Philip the evangelist’s daughters are prophets (Acts 21:8–9). Paul sees a vision of a man inviting him to Macedonia (Acts 16:9). Agabus prophesies a great famine (Acts 11:28) and Paul’s impending arrest (Acts 21:10–11). Cornelius, an unsaved Gentile described as “a devout man who feared God” (Acts 10:2), sees an angel in a vision who tells him to send for Peter; Peter shares the gospel and Cornelius and his family accept Christ and receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 10).
The language is poetic, which is typical for a book of prophecy in the Bible. God doesn’t mean to say that only sons and daughters will prophesy, or that young men will only receive messages while they’re awake and only old men will hear from God when they’re sleeping. The verse is in a synthetic parallel format and just means that “people” will receive “messages” from God in various ways.
One of the great questions of the church is, are these visions and prophesies for the early church age, or are they meant to continue through to the end times? It’s true that seekers and believers around the world have seen visions that led them closer to Jesus. But the supernatural messages seem to have decreased greatly since the church compiled the canon of the books that belong in the New Testament. Scripture is the primary way that God communicates with the world today.
“All of our dreams might be wonderful, or they might be wicked. The determining factor is what desires are fueling the dreams.”