Hearing God, Pt. 7 – Dreams & Visions, Pt. 1 

This past Sunday, we celebrated Pentecost Sunday. Jesus promised his disciples a “baptism in the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5, 8), that he would send them a “Helper” who would “teach [them] all things” (John 14:26), and that he would not leave the disciples “as orphans” (John 14:18).  

The 120 disciples who waited in the upper room became recipients of this baptism. The Church was birthed, and the promise of the Father fulfilled.  

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 ESV 

The power of the Spirit now released, the disciples were empowered to perform incredible acts—like healings, speaking in tongues, prophesying, and performing miracles. The Spirit now given and received by believers, enables the follower of Christ to hear God communicate.  

Peter quotes from Joel on the day of Pentecost and links this prophetic promise to the outpouring that day:  

‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.’ Acts 2:17 

Again, the Promise of the Father and Jesus to give the Holy Spirit to those who would believe! The Holy Spirit reveals the Father and the Son to us, leads us into truth, guides and directs us, gives us strength and comfort, and He speaks to us in His unique language. 

The language of the Spirit includes what we read in the Bible, thoughts, words, impressions, vision, dreams, and encounters—all comprise the language of the Spirit. 

Jesus is our shepherd, and he makes it clear, if you believe in Him, you are a sheep who hears His voice (John 10:27). He wants us to know His voice and follow Him. 

A pivotal verse about hearing God and receiving revelation is found in Jeremiah:  

Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced inandhidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand). Jer. 33:3 AMPC 

God invites us to pray! Then He promises to answer and reveal what is hidden and secret. This promise was given to wayward Israel! How much more to us in the New Covenant?  

Do you have faith to believe God wants to answer you? 

Recognize that the voice of the Lord is not only heard; it is also seen. 

The minor prophet Habakkuk had some key insights on how to hear and see what God is revealing:  

1 I will stand my watch, And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected. 2 Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision, And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.” Hab. 2:1-2 NKJV 

Habakkuk was going to start looking for vision as he prayed. He was going to open the eyes of his heart and look into the spirit world to see what God wanted to show him.  

God gave you “eyes in your heart.” They are to be used to see in the spirit world the vision and movement of Almighty God. Expect visionary encounters with the Lord! 

There is an active spirit world functioning around us. This world is full of angels, demons, the Holy Spirit, the omnipresent God, and His omnipresent Son, Jesus. There is no reason for us not to see it, other than our rational culture, which may tell us not to believe it is there. 

The most obvious prerequisite to seeing is that we need to look. Focus on Jesus! He is Emmanuel, God with us! You can see Christ present with you in a comfortable setting because Christ is present with you in a comfortable setting—He is with us always!  

You will see a spontaneous inner vision in a manner like receiving spontaneous inner thoughts. You may discover that inner vision comes so easily you will tend to reject it, thinking that it is just you. Record what God is revealing and pray over it!  

The language of dreams and visions is a means by God to communicate to us. They provide a way for people to see the word of the Lord as well as hear it.  

So important are dreams and visions in the Bible, that concordance searches of these references equal in volume to the whole of the New Testament (NT). 

Consider what the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam in Numbers: 

“Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.” Num. 12:6 NKJV  

Note that dream and vision can be used interchangeably in Scripture, for they come from the Lord, the same source. This form of communication from God is foundational!  

Dreams and Visions were not only in the Old Testament (OT), but also in the NT.  

For example, the priest Zacharias saw a vision of the angel of the Lord standing by the altar of incense, who had a message for him. Saul, later Paul, had a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus. Joseph, betrothed to Mary, had a dream that she was telling the truth about conceiving Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Then he was given specific instructions in a dream to move his family to Egypt.  

To understand dreams and visions, learning their language is important. 

While the mind speaks through concepts and reason, dreams and visions communicate through pictures and symbols.  

Dreams and visions often provide God’s communication to us in ways that our minds cannot or will not receive. It may be that the mind simply cannot comprehend the things God wants to say to us. Or maybe there are prejudices or preconceived ideas about God’s will that do not allow the mind to accept the truth God is revealing, so He shows these things to us through dreams and visions. 

Consider God’s calling and communication with the young prophet Jeremiah:  

11 Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?” And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.” 12 And theLordsaid, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.” Jer. 1:11-12 NLT 

The Hebrew word for “watching” (shoqed) sounds like the word for “almond tree” (shaqed). The symbol of the almond branch meant God was watching, but also the almond tree is the first to bloom in Israel. Jeremiah would have known this, and therefore God was communicating to him “I’m ready to act now!” 

Again, the Lord uses dreams and visions to communicate to us when our minds may not receive what God is communicating.  

Consider what Job said: 

14 For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. 15 He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. 16 He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings. 17 He makes them turn from doing wrong; he keeps them from pride. Job 33:14-17 NLT 

When our minds are quieted at night, God will often show us things our minds refuse to hear during our waking or active hours. He gives us a mirror of our soul, so that we can know what the thoughts of our heart really are. 

God through the visionary encounter, opens our spiritual eyes to what is veiled until He gives us the ability to see it. God is the one who reveals and gives the understanding, truths are hidden within! They are similar to parables that Jesus would teach. Simple stories that illustrated truths people in that time would understand. 

Does the dream give peace? Then most likely from the Lord. That said, a dream can be from the Lord, but we don’t feel peaceful because the message is contrary to our preconceived thoughts and ideas. 

For example, in Acts 10, Peter received a vision about going to the Cornelius’ home, to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. Peter at first rejected it. God clearly communicated both in vision and voice that this was His desire. Peter went, they came to Christ and were filled with the Holy Spirit! God’s design before the beginning of time, that the Gentiles would also be part of God’s plan of salvation! 

Also, this does not mean every dream is from the Lord. Studies reveal that we dream about an hour or so each night. Some dreams are the result of our soul processing through memories, emotions, and pain. Other dreams can be from the enemy. You may not think you are dreaming, but you are. Your mind may be cluttered, which inhibits you from remembering your dreams. 

My wife Carolyn had a significant dream last week about her and I. It was a very positive, hope filled dream about the future. Certainly, from the Lord! But part of the dream had to do with our toilet, which we have been having problems with! I believe that part of the dream was related to our current circumstance and not necessarily linked to the future part of the dream. 

Once, doing street evangelism, myself and another brother ministered to a woman who considered herself a white witch. The Lord gave us very specific words of knowledge for her, which she confirmed and thanked us for sharing and praying for her. But later that evening, I had a horrible demonic dream, and I know it was related to ministering to this person who practices the occult. 

Many make errors interpretating dreams and visions.  

There is no standard set of guidelines for what the pictures and symbols mean. As with Joseph interpreting the dreams of Pharoah, he wisely told him that the interpretation belongs to God.  

15 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.” 16 So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Gen. 41:15-16 NKJV 

So, while there can be similarities with pictures and symbols in dreams and visions, it’s not universal. It is important to follow the wisdom of Joseph and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal what the pictures and symbols mean in the dream or vision. 

For example, often cars or vehicles can represent ministry in a person’s life, but we must ask the Lord for understanding, because this may not be true in every case. This same principle is true for other pictures, symbols etc. 

Another common mistake is to interpret a dream literally. When we dream about other people, we tend to assume the dream is speaking of them. But most often people in our dreams reflect a part of ourselves. We need to ask the Lord what these people represent to us and what we are doing in real life that they are doing symbolically in the dream. 

Another important concept when understanding or interpreting dreams and visions, is that they are often revealing something about us, our inner life. Again, we may be dreaming of other people and ourselves, but the dream most likely is for us, about us. 

Dreams are most often like mirrors to our soul, reflecting what is going on within us. They can reveal our struggles, pain, and blind spots. The dream maybe revealing things we don’t see or understand about ourselves. 

Dreams can have many levels of meaning. Others can help you understand or interpret the dream or vision, but only the dreamer will recognize when the interpretation to his dream is correct.  

For example, Pharoah’s wise men could not interpret his dreams, but Joseph by the Spirit of God could, and it bore witness immediately with Pharoah. Similarly, when Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he fell on his face, did homage to Daniel and made him ruler over the province of Babylon. Daniel’s interpretation immediately bore witness to Nebuchadnezzar. 

This illustrates what happens when we help people understand their dreams. The dreamer bears witness, that the interpretation is correct because it confirms what they know, consciously or unconsciously.  

It is important that we do not accept an interpretation of a dream that our hearts do not confirm, or bear witness too. Likewise, we should never force an interpretation of a dream upon someone (or prophecy either). We can suggest, but we should leave it with the dreamer (person) to receive the confirmation from the Lord. 

Final Thoughts 

If you are born again, and are walking in right relationship with the Lord, you can be confident that God will speak to you. You can hear His voice! This includes dreams and visions! 

It is our rational 21st century minds, influenced by culture, that often causes us to doubt our ability to tune into God’s spontaneous flow of impressions, pictures, visions, and dreams. 

To hear His voice: 

Believe God Speaks to You. Men and women throughout the Bible heard God’s voice, or His language, which included dreams and visions. The Bible indicates that we can hear His voice today. There is a deep hunger in each of us to know God and to communicate with Him.  

Learn God’s Language of the Spirit. This is accomplished through developing relationship with Him. The more we tune our spirit to the Holy Spirit, hearing His voice will become a normal occurrence.  

Permit yourself to have more faith to believe you can hear His voice than to be deceived by the enemy! Jesus is our Lord and Shepherd; His sheep hear His voice! 

Bob Sawvelle

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