Can Spiritual Dreams Guide You?
Through spiritual dreams, Joseph received divine guidance and protected Jesus’ life. We can also have similar experiences. Joseph the carpenter, Jesus’ guardian and Mary’s husband, is an example in the Bible of how this works.
Information in the Gospels
We do not have much information about Joseph but the little we know shows that he had a key role in Jesus’ life.
Unreliable Information from Other Sources
We can find more information on Joseph in the non-canonical gospels and the Qur’an, but such information is not reliable and has many inconsistencies. Further, the spiritual lessons given in the Bible accounts are more important than the physical details not given. For this reason, I will not try to develop hypotheses on Joseph’s life from other sources. I will concentrate on the Gospel’s accounts in:
- Matthew 1:16, 18-24, 2:13-15, 19-23, 13:55
- Luke 1:27, 2:4-6, 16-22, 33, 39-51, 3:23, 4:22
- John 1:45, 6:42
I will focus on what I believe these Scriptures show that is spiritually significant for us.
Different Focus in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel
First, we should notice the different emphasis in Matthew and Luke’s Gospel accounts of the events surrounding birth of Jesus.
Just as Luke reported Mary’s genealogy, he also gives more details about Mary’s experience and role. On the other hand, Matthew gives Joseph’s genealogy and describes Joseph’s role in Jesus’ childhood. From both Gospels, we can see that both Joseph and Mary had important roles in Jesus’ life and upbringing. The Gospel of Mathew shows that what Joseph did was essential to the birth and survival of baby Jesus.
Why God chose Joseph to care for and protect Mary and baby Jesus?
He was a man of character, spiritual discernment and understanding:
- Joseph was a righteous man – Matthew 1:19
His attitude and actions show that he was a righteous man. He was obedient to the Law and knew the Scriptures.
- Joseph was a rational man
Joseph questioned Mary’s condition. From Mathew 1:18-20 we can deduce that he was considering the explanation that Mary had given him. Mary must have told him about the angelic apparition and possibly Elizabeth’s reaction when she had visited her. Yet, he did not believe her.
- Joseph was a compassionate man
Although initially Joseph did not believe Mary’s innocence, he had compassion for her. He decided to protect her from public disgrace and possibly death by divorcing her secretly.
- Joseph was a spiritual man who could hear from God by dreams and had the discernment to understand and obey
Repeatedly, Joseph received important information from God in dreams, information that even the religious leaders did not receive or understand.
The revelation in his dream was even more fantastic than Mary’s account. It was much more than the revelation about Mary’s virgin conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). It was making the birth of Jesus a global event fulfilling Old Testament prophesies (Gen 3:15, Isa 7:14). Joseph’s revelation included:
- Jesus’ virgin birth by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20)
- The fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Matthew 1:22)
- The divine nature of the coming baby (Matthew 1:23)
- The name to give to the baby (Matthew 1:21)
- The destiny of Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 1:21)
- Instructions to accept and care for Jesus (Matthew 1:20)
- The attempts to destroy Jesus’ life (Matthew 1:13)
- The time to leave for and return from Egypt to ensure Jesus’ safety (Matthew 1:13, 19-23)
- Joseph had a special trust in God and spiritual experience
Acting on the revelations he received was not easy, yet Joseph never hesitated or questioned God’s guidance. (Matthew 1:14-15, 19-23)
Guidance through Dream and Vision
From these verses and many other parts of the Bible, we can see how God used dreams to guide and protect in both Old and New Testaments.
Peter, on the day of Pentecost, as the Holy Spirit fell on Jesus’ disciples, repeated the Prophet Joel’s prophecy about how the Holy Spirit speaks to us through visions and dreams. (Joel 2:28-29, Acts 2:17-18)
“And it shall be in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And in those days I will pour out My Spirit upon My servants and My handmaidens, and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18)
These words seem strong and clear.
Rejection of Dreams as a Source of Guidance
Nevertheless, today many believers regard dreams and visions as something unusual, unreliable and even superstitious. Many believe that they never dream and when they do, they do not understand their dreams or are afraid of them because the only dreams they remember are nightmares.
This perspective is unscriptural and part of the view that miracles and spiritual gifts have passed away with the early church.
Holy Spirit and Spiritual Dreams
The opposite is true. The Holy Spirit can communicate to us by spiritual dreams and vision and He will do that even more in “the last days.” Miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are available and working today.
Actually, the least born-again believer is part of the kingdom of Heaven and is greater than the greatest prophets in the Old Testament (Matthew 11:11). Signs following are the evidence following believers (Mark 16:15-18). Many believers are spiritually undeveloped because of the teachings they have received.
I find it strange that many authors write about things and pass their judgment on them without any real experience. It is clear to me that they are not qualified to do it. Our qualification does not come from a university degree (Colossians 1:12-14, Luke 4:18).
My Experience with Dreams and Visions
I have walked with the Lord for 42 years, and since the beginning, He has communicated with me through dreams and visions.
Not all the dreams I have are a revelation from God. Most often they are simply my mind processing the events of the day. Nevertheless, I do clearly know when there is something more in them.
Dream Interpretation and the Bible
What is often stated is that the Bible give us all that we need to know. This is inaccurate. The Bible gives all truth from a doctrinal point of view, not the information about how to apply the truth in specific, personal situations. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Even our interpretation of the Bible depends on the revelation we have from the Holy Spirit who is the author of it, not just what tradition has passed on (Mark 7:13).
There are different opinions in many basic doctrines, but only one truth. That shows that the Bible alone is not sufficient to resolve our information needs. That is why the Holy Spirit is not gone to heaven but came to live in us to guide us in all truth (John 16:13).
From the results we can see, it seems that we are rather slow to listen. The Bible shows this also.
In my experience, I brought before the Lord many doctrinal questions and it is in dreams and vision that He has clarified them and what the Bible says. Sometimes it has taken a long time before I fully understood some of my dreams and visions. I must say that they have been an important part of my spiritual walk.
The truth must be spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14), no analytically derived. I wrote about this before. It is a basic principle of Christian epistemology. Ignoring it will hinder our spiritual progress.
This also implies that to interpret dreams, you should not use “dream dictionaries” or similar nonsense. If you need help, somebody with maturity and experience in this area can help you. This is what is the purpose of the five fold ministry (Ephesians 4:1114). This is especially important if the dreams are recurring because in that case they show issues you should resolve.
Even if you are not aware of it, you dream multiple times every night. Most often, dreams are the result of processing the events of the day. Your mind needs that to stay healthy.
Other times you have spiritual issues to deal with and your mind is incapable of doing it. This is when we have spiritual dreams. These dreams, when properly interpreted, become an excellent source of information.
Going to a fortune-teller is always wrong, but having dreams is completely natural. Do not be afraid of them.
Understanding Dream Interpretation Helps Us with Bible Prophecy Interpretation
This is not the place to present the principles of dream and vision interpretation but these principles are critical for interpreting Bible prophecy. These are spiritual principles, not formulas.
Questions to Consider
- Are you aware of your dreams?
- Did you ever receive direction from a dream or a vision?
- Are you afraid of finding out something through your dreams?
Some Articles on Dreams and the Bible from Other Authors
- Dreams in The Bible 1
- Dreams in the Bible 2
- What Does the Bible Say About Dreams?
- Infographic: Every dream in the Bible (and what they mean)
© 2014 – 2019, Pastor Maurizio. All rights reserved.