“Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind” (Genesis 37:5-11 ESV).
I selected this passage of scripture last night before I went to bed. I didn’t have in mind the passage in Joel about “old men dreaming dreams”, but I had three distinct and memorable dreams last night. Not a one of them meant anything other than the Reuben sandwich I had for dinner was delicious. Although Reuben was one of Joseph’s brothers…. Hmmm.
Dreams and dream interpretation have been around as long as the people who have the dreams. Some say that all dreams have meaning, while others believe that no dreams have meaning. I find myself somewhere in the middle. I have had one powerful dream that impacted my life’s direction and still influences it today. And then there’s last night’s Zombie Apocolypse dream…
I do believe that God sometimes uses dreams to speak to us. Joseph and all of His family believed strongly that dreams have meaning. That’s why they were so upset when he shared his dreams with them. It is unclear whether Joseph was old enough to have understood the meaning of his dreams, but the meaning was perfectly clear to everyone he told.
In a previous blog post called Stewards I touched on the importance of keeping sacred the mysteries that God reveals to us, sharing them only with those who will receive them respectfully; and not “throwing our pearls before swine”. At first glance, it would appear that Joseph should have just kept his mouth shut about his dreams. After all, it would have saved him a lot of trouble, right?
But God’s plan would have played out whether he had shared the dreams or not. The dreams weren’t given to Joseph for his own sake. It is obvious from the life Joseph lived that he was abundantly secure in his relationship with God. He didn’t need the dreams to prepare his heart; his family needed to hear these dreams to prepare their hearts! And Joseph shared his dreams with his family to soften our hearts!
In today’s world we don’t typically put much stock in dreams; we are beyond such things. But I want to encourage you that God does still speak through dreams. He doesn’t speak through all dreams. But He does use dreams to communicate His plans, share His reasoning, and to soften and prepare our hearts for His purposes.
I also believe that if we tell God that we are willing to have Him speak to us through our dreams, He will do so. But then we must be diligent to pay attention to our dreams, sorting out the ordinary and mundane to find the voice of God. And when all is said and done, we must use God’s Word in scripture as the primary direction for our lives. When God speaks to us through dreams, it will always line up with His written word!