Healing Line

Healing Line

Dreams: Have We Been Missing Help from God?

by John Paul Jackson
Apr/May/Jun 2013

Over the last 30 years, I have spent enormous amounts of time meeting and communicating with spiritual leaders around the world. I have talked to them at length about the wonders of God, and many of them have shared their deep and often very unusual spiritual experiences with me. Most of those experiences they refuse to tell their congregations, denominational heads and friends. Why? It is not always because they doubt what they experienced was real, but because of fear — fear that no one would believe them, fear their denominations would expel them, and, sadly, fear spawned from a lack of depth in their own understanding of God and His ways. As one pastor said to me, "Seminary did not teach me that dreams and visions can still happen today. In fact, I was taught God no longer spoke this way. But they do happen, and it happened to me."

The Broader Church has had little context for angelic visitations, visions of the future and dreams about other people, not to mention a vast number of other God encounters; these are somehow discarded without reference to the truth of them in Scripture. I have watched 90–year–olds weep as they relayed their encounters with God and His heavenly agents. I have seen the wide–eyed wonder of 4–year–olds as they tell, in their own childlike way, the truth of what they are seeing on a daily and nightly basis.

True spiritual life is comprised of spiritual experiences, spiritual manifestations and a spiritual relationship with an awesome God. There is no spiritual life outside of God, who is Spirit. This type of spiritual life is exciting, and it injects us with awe and wonder at how alive God really is. However, for the most part, followers of Jesus in the Church today are like computers that haven't been programmed to open the documents sent from Heaven. Too many of us are left asking, "Was it just a dream?" with no one who understands the impact of what happened to us.

Will God Speak in a Way We Can't Understand?

As always, there will be the detractors who insist that God would not give us something we could not understand. To those who still cling to that theological mantra, I would recommend rereading very closely what is recorded in the book of Job:

  "For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it.
15In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds,
16then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction." — Job 33:14–16

In these verses, we find that God can speak to man — and not only does man not understand the dream, but he doesn't even know God was speaking. It might be said that he has ears to hear but does not hear, and he has eyes to see but does not see. We cannot discount what we do not understand — the key is to seek to understand what God has chosen to reveal to us. Our culture has placed a veil over dreams and their interpretation, but that does not mean God no longer speaks through them.

Dreams are much more than a curiosity of the night. When correctly interpreted, they are an agent of change. Throughout Scripture, nations were formed, children were born, lives were saved, and destinies foretold — all through these parables of the night. Is it any wonder kings scoured the earth to find someone who could solve the experience they had the night before?

Until interpreted, dreams are a riddle and a divine enigma. We might know that God has spoken, but we do not know what He has said, and because of that, dreams are also a paradox. They are a treasure hidden in the midst of the obvious.

Our task, then, is to uncover the keys of interpretation found in God's ways. These keys are hidden right in front of us, if we just know where to look. The Bible is filled with examples of how God speaks, but like any course we took in school, we have to study to find the answers.

One–third of the Bible directly connects to a dream or vision sent from God. Interestingly enough, this correlates to the fact that most of us will sleep one–third of our lives. If we were to remove everything in Scripture that relates to dreams and visions, we would remove hundreds of pages.

Through the prophet Joel, God said that in the last days, He would speak to us through prophecy, dreams, visions, signs and wonders. So God chose long ago to speak to us this way in these days. How can we have the audacity to tell Him that we don't believe He can do this, or that we don't want Him to speak like this, as if He does not know the best way to speak to us? We want God to speak only in the way we choose.

Yes, dreams are full of mysteries and riddles, but then, so is Scripture. The Bible is replete with prophetic enigmas, many of which are still hard to understand today, yet those "riddles of the night" we do not discount. I have found that God takes joy in making us search for the understanding of what He has just done or said. It draws us closer to Him. As we experience that which is beyond our understanding, our hearts are filled with awe. Whenever church becomes "boring," it is due to a lack of awe, and there is a dearth of awe in many churches today.

What About Immaturity?

Some will claim that we should not tell the divinum mysterium to the spiritually immature. But isn't that precisely what was legislated during the Dark Ages, when the Church let only priests possess and read the Bible? Yes, there is a need for maturity, but we act like the Holy Spirit does not know our level of maturation. In so doing, we come perilously close to believing the Holy Spirit does not know to whom He should give gifts. I choose to believe that the Spirit of God knows what God is doing! We are the ones who lack the divine logic necessary to understand the higher processes of Heaven's spiritual reasoning.

Just days before he passed away, a great leader in the Church earnestly exhorted me, "I am going to tell you everything so you do not let happen to you what I let happen to me." I will never forget the agonizing look in his eyes as he lay on his deathbed and for an hour and a half told me everything on his heart. One of the most powerful moments was when he said, "I am on my deathbed because God told me to take a risk. And I looked God in the face and said, 'No, I have too much to lose.'" He went on to say, "The political system within the Church will kill your gift if you follow it."

This great church leader knew why he was where he was, and the regret in the air was palpable. Therein lies the proverbial catch–22 of the godly: We lose if we say that we had a dream, but we lose even more if we do not.

Further complicating matters, one cannot deeply discuss dreams and visions without touching on other spiritual phenomena, including visitations of angels, transportations of individuals, prophecy, translations and the transcendence of time. All these spiritual experiences and more took place in the dreams and visions recorded in the Bible, and they still take place today, but few will open themselves to tell anyone what happened to them.

Why Dreams and Visions?

I have watched the hardest of hearts melt as dreams that were not understood for years were finally interpreted. I have seen giants of men weep until they had no more tears as God revealed to them through dreams how He has loved them since they were children. Recently, a politician clung to me for strength as God gave him the solution to a national problem through the interpretation of a dream he had a few nights earlier.

Is it any wonder that God said the following words:

  "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. 29And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. 32And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. — Joel 2:28–32  

Look up every verse in the Bible concerning the last days and you'll find it pretty apocalyptic. Wouldn't it stand to reason that in such a time God would choose to speak in ways that would benefit us the most? I wonder how many solutions were missed, how many inventions were never discovered, how many jobs were lost, or how many lives ended too soon, all because the dreamer did not know God was trying to help them.

May we learn the ways of God, and in so doing, may the dreams He gives us take us to the purpose for which we were created.

John Paul Jackson John Paul Jackson is an author, teacher, conference speaker, and founder of Streams Ministries International. Apr/May/June 2013