In the Old and New Testaments, God spoke in dreams and visions.
Does He still do that today?
Short answer: God does whatever He wants.
He can and does use dreams and visions today, but not as often as in early church history.
1. The Bible is complete and it is an indisputable source of truth.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
2. God typically used dreams and visions to speak to prophets and apostles so they could transmit His truth to His people. Those messages became part of Scripture. Now, leaders, teachers, and pastors transmit God’s message by teaching Scripture.
See Romans 15:4 and Hebrews 4:12.
3. When God speaks today in dreams or visions, it’s for specific instruction, guidance, warning, or encouragement for an individual, group, or church. It's not Scripture (not meant for the Body of Christ as a whole) and should be cautiously tested.(1)
See Acts 10:1-15.(2)
(1) 1 Corinthians 14:29 speaks of prophecy in general, but it would apply to dreams and visions as well.
(2) This passage gives an example of two types of visions: The first given to an individual for his specific situation, the second given to an apostle for instruction to the whole Body of Christ. The first is a type of vision that may happen today. The second is a type of vision that ended when Scripture was completed.
1. We must realize that there are false visions as well as legitimate visions.
Where do false dreams and visions originate?
Jeremiah 23:16-18: This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ 18 But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?
Verse 18 is key. Now that Scripture is complete, our most reliable source of information is God's Word.
Ezekiel 13:1-9: Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord. 3 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!’ ... 6 Instead, they have told lies and made false predictions. They say, ‘This message is from the Lord,’ even though the Lord never sent them. And yet they expect him to fulfill their prophecies! 7 Can your visions be anything but false if you claim, ‘This message is from the Lord,’ when I have not even spoken to you? 8 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because what you say is false and your visions are a lie, I will stand against you, says the Sovereign Lord. 9 I will raise my fist against all the prophets who see false visions and make lying predictions, and they will be banished from the community of Israel.
2. Look at each of these dreams or visions and note the purpose and meaning.
Which were for individual or group guidance? Which were messages for all of God’s people, part of God’s unfolding message of Scripture?
Abraham : Genesis 15:1-16
Abimelech: Genesis 20:1-7
Jacob: Genesis 28:10-17
Joseph: Genesis 37:1-11
Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker: Genesis 40
Pharaoh: Genesis 41
Samuel : 1 Samuel 3
The Midianite and Amalekite armies: Judges 7:12-15
Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5-14
Nebuchadnezzar: Daniel 2; 4
New Testament Dreams and Visions
Zacharias: Luke 1:5-23
Joseph: Matthew 1:20-24; 2:13
Pilate's wife: Matthew 27:19
Ananias: Acts 9:10-15
Cornelius Acts 10:1-6
Peter : Acts 10:9-15
Paul: Acts 16:9-10, Acts 18:9-11, 2 Corinthians 12:1-6
John: Revelation 1
If you want to “cheat” and read a synopsis of each dream and vision, check out Got Questions: Dreams & Visions.
copyright 2018, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com