11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. -Genesis 28:11-13
Jacob had a dream. One hundred and seventeen times dreams are mentioned in the Bible; God revealing Himself through dreams. Has God stopped using dreams? Of course not! God still does what God has always done. But here’s the problem—we take the extraordinary and make it extreme. As far as we know, this is the only time in Jacob’s life where God did exactly this. But people who casually claim, “God told me,” and “I had another dream last night”—if God shows up in your dream every night, that is bad pizza! But I do believe God still can use dreams.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5 tells us how to discern whether a dream is a message of encouragement from God. One of the things this passage makes very clear is God never directs us through our dreams unless it is one hundred percent consistent with God’s Word. Anybody who says they got a dream from God and it doesn’t square up with Scripture, they’re mistaken.
You ask, “Well, James, has that ever happened to you?” I believe it has a couple of times. So often what we dream about is what we were thinking about when we lay down. That’s why I often pray or read the Scriptures before I go to sleep. There have been a couple of times in my life where I’ve had a dream about worship in heaven. And in the Lord’s presence, all of the burdens of life dropped away so freely, and I was so captured in the worship that will be ours through all of eternity. And the joy overflowing from my heart was so much I woke up in the middle of the night and my pillow was wet with tears of joy. They were flowing from my eyes as I was dreaming about all God has in store for those who love Him. What encouragement! I believe God does do that. Check any dream against Scripture. It’s not a regular thing. It’s a great mercy that God would minister to us in that way, just as He ministers encouragement to Jacob in today’s verses.
- When have dreams drawn special attention to God’s Word in my life and what has resulted?
Prayer - Father, I realize that dreams are among the tools You can use to get our attention. I think of Joseph, Pharaoh, Peter, and others who were guided by dreams You gave. As I meditate on the way You guide and encourage today, what I long for is Your guidance. I’m not so concerned with how You guide me, but I want to grow in my confidence that You are continually at work behind the scenes in my life to bring about a good end. Thank You for that assurance! In Jesus’ name, Amen.