dreams

©2020 dan bulkley | ask@lifefellowship.org

dreams

section 1

Dreams are an intriguing subject because they are so mysterious and yet seemingly meaningful. They seem to hold potential insight into ourselves, memories, and even our future if we can only mine the depths revelations 2:24 . Even in a modern, "scientific" age the mythos of dreams persists in trying to find psychological meaning and significance through the interpretations of our dreams. We believers also ascribe significance to dreams because of the occurrences of God dealing with people through dreams. So how are we to respond to our dreams? Let us look a little more closely at how the Bible describes dreams and what it prescribes for them.

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supporting scriptures

revelation 2:24

24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.

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To begin with, dreams are not as frequent in Scripture as we suppose. By my count, a dream rightly associated with the Lord’s work is only recorded some 14 times; give or take a couple. That is not a high frequency in contrast with the many other ways the Lord interacts with people in Scripture. Though we often think meaningful dreams are a very frequent recorded occurrence; it actually is puffed up in our minds probably because of our own fascination with dreams.

my notes:

section 2

The Bible describes common dreams in a nonchalant way as to be disregarded phantoms of thought psalm 73:20 ; just as most of our dreams fade quickly when we awake job 20:8 . Dreams are described as the mundane echoes of what we are currently busy with ecclesiastes 5:3 or the vain, fruitless pursuits of our desires isaiah 29:7-8 zechariah 10:2 . We all have experienced dreams when troubled from our current circumstances or even from physical stimuli as we sleep, i.e. dreaming of falling off a cliff and then landing on the floor having fallen out of bed, dreaming of some kind of water and waking up needing to use the restroom, etc.. These do not carry a veiled, deep meaning but rather are easily understood to be connected with our cares and current circumstances being disorientingly infused into a dream. But it is that very strangeness of the dreaming mind that still makes us wonder if there is some deeper significance.

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supporting scriptures

psalm 73:20

20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.

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job 20:8

8 He will fly away like a dream and not be found; he will be chased away like a vision of the night.

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ecclesiastes 5:3

3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.

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my notes:

isaiah 29:7-8

7 And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, all that fight against her and her stronghold and distress her, shall be like a dream, a vision of the night.

8 As when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he is eating, and awakes with his hunger not satisfied, or as when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he is drinking, and awakes faint, with his thirst not quenched, so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.

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zechariah 10:2

2 For the household gods utter nonsense, and the diviners see lies; they tell false dreams and give empty consolation. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.

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section 3

There are those dreams that disturb us and stick with us beyond the more usual fading dreams. Such dreams are usually the ones we seek significance from as they can cause anxiety, sadness, concern, anger, etc. How are we to know what to do when a mere dream causes us any kind of suffering matthew 27:19 ?

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supporting scriptures

matthew 27:19

9 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream."

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my notes:

section 4

Do not rely on an interpretation of your dream, either from experts or yourself jeremiah 27:9 zechariah 10:2 . You cannot rely on a so-called expert to tell you what real meaning there is to your dream when they have to rely on you to describe the dream accurately daniel 2:4-6 , and have to rely on you to describe your frame of mind, your heart and your circumstances accurately, as you even having a dream to interpret shows you do not know your heart well enough to even share it precisely jeremiah 17:5-10 . Only God actually knows your heart i kings 8:39 and only He can reveal what is truly going on in you daniel 2:30 and what a dream is revealing daniel 2:27-28 . Try as we may, we cannot accurately interpret our own dreams daniel 2:3 . God is the only One Who can interpret your dream genesis 40:8 genesis 41:15-16 ; this ability shows He is our God daniel 2:47 .

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supporting scriptures

jeremiah 27:9

9 So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your fortune-tellers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon.’

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zechariah 10:2

2 For the household gods utter nonsense, and the diviners see lies; they tell false dreams and give empty consolation. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.

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daniel 2:4-6

4 Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation." 5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, "The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. 6 But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation."

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jeremiah 17:5-10

5 Thus says the Lord: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

7 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit."

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

10 "I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."

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i kings 8:39

39 then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind),

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daniel 2:30

30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.

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daniel 2:27-28

27 Daniel answered the king and said, "No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these:

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daniel 2:3

3 And the king said to them, "I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream."

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genesis 40:8

8 They said to him, "We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them." And Joseph said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me."

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genesis 41:15-16

15 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it." 16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, "It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer."

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daniel 2:47

47 The king answered and said to Daniel, "Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery."

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my notes:

section 5

So when dreams are impactful genesis 20:1-8 , distressing daniel 2:1 and/or terrifying job 7:13-15 how are we to understand these kind of dreams? Be sure that if the Lord is warning you in a dream it will not simply fade away as usual. When God speaks, even in a dream, it will be like a hammer on your soul and a fire burning in you jeremiah 23:28-29 . We know that the Lord does use such means to warn us, but keep in mind that warning is not about circumstances as much as it is about our disobedience and pride in our life job 33:14-18 .

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supporting scriptures

genesis 20:1-8

1 From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife." 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, "Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this." 6 Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours."

8 So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid.

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daniel 2:1

1 In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him.

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job 7:13-15

13 When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,’

14 then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions,

15 so that I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones.

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jeremiah 23:28-29

28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

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job 33:14-18

14 For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.

15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds,

16 then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings,

17 that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man;

18 he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.

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my notes:

section 6

Whether a dream causes distress about your heart or even if it is a seeming warning about circumstances to come and/or direction for action to be taken matthew 2:12-22 , we must be careful to test, not interpret, the dream i thessalonians 5:19-22 . We sinful humans put a lot of significance on mysterious dreams jude 1:8 whereas Scripture places far more weight on the simplicity of the written Word i john 4:1-6 ephesians 2:19-20 ephesians 3:4-5 . We must go to God’s Word to know if a mysterious dream is legitimately from Him or not isaiah 8:19-20 . Though a dream may rouse you to search, pray, take action, etc., it must be the Word that we follow and respond to psalm 119:9 psalm 19:7-11 . Take no dream as authority; at the most let it move you to study the Word for verification and guidance acts 17:11 .

my notes:

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supporting scriptures

matthew 2:12-22

12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son."

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 "A voice was heard in Ramah,

weeping and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

she refused to be comforted, because they are no more."

The Return to Nazareth

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead." 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

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i thessalonians 5:19-22

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

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jude 1:8

8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.

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i john 4:1-6

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

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ephesians 2:19-20

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,

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ephesians 3:4-5

4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.

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isaiah 8:19-20

19 And when they say to you, "Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter," should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.

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psalm 119:9

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

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psalm 19:7-11

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

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acts 17:11

11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

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my notes:

section 7

Remember God is the Revealer of hearts, the Revealer of Mysteries, and He does so far more in what we would call conventional means than what we would describe as mystical. He uses the Word to reveal the heart hebrews 4:12-13 and uses believers administering the Word to reveal hearts i corinthians 14:25 .

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supporting scriptures

hebrews 4:12-13

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

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i corinthians 14:25

25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

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my notes:

section 8

Dreams from the Lord are actually a sign of distance from Him not closeness as we would almost imagine numbers 12:6-8 . Just as we often mistakenly think politeness makes for family when human politeness is actually reservedness; showing a lack of intimacy proverbs 27:17 . We as believers have the Holy Spirit to teach us i john 2:27 and guide us isaiah 30:20-21 because God has spoken to us more intimately by His Son than dreams hebrews 1:1-2 and so we have the Spirit of Christ testifying to our spirit romans 8:9 romans 8:16 of walking as Jesus walked i john 2:6

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supporting scriptures

numbers 12:6-8

6 And he said, "Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. 7 Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. 8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"

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proverbs 27:17

17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

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i john 2:27

27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

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my notes:

isaiah 30:20-21

20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

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hebrews 1:1-2

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

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romans 8:9

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

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romans 8:16

16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

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i john 2:6

6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

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my notes:

section 9

Sadly, we as believers even take a prophecy of Holy Spirit indwelling us joel 2:28-31 and emphasize the dreams more than Jesus saving us and giving us the Holy Spirit acts 2:17-21 acts 2:32-33 so that we may be saved from our lack of understanding to walking with the Lord deuteronomy 29:3-4 deuteronomy 30:11-15 . But with the right understanding the 3,000 of Pentecost devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching {which we have in the Scriptures}, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer, but not to dreams acts 2:41-42 .

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supporting scriptures

joel 2:28-31

28 "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, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. 30 "And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.

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acts 2:17-21

17 "‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

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acts 2:32-33

32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

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deuteronomy 29:3-4

3 the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. 4 But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.

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deuteronomy 30:11-15

11 "For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

15 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.

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acts 2:41-42

41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

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my notes:

section 10

Those who rely on dreams are often mistaken in their interpretation job 4:12-21 job 42:7 , whereas God delights to use His Word in our lives more than subjective interpretation of dreams ii peter 1:16-21 . His Word is an intimate love letter that can be revisited psalm 119:30 ii timothy 2:15 romans 3:1-2 and relied on always matthew 5:18 . Whereas the dreamer is more often fraudulent or unreliable deuteronomy 13:1-5 with no authority compared to God’s written Word jeremiah 23:25-29 .

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supporting scriptures

job 4:12-21

12 "Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it.

13 Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men,

14 dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake.

15 A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up.

16 It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice:

17 Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?

18 Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error;

19 how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth.

20 Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it.

21 Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them, do they not die, and that without wisdom?’

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job 42:7

7 After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: "My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.

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ii peter 1:16-21

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

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psalm 119:30

30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.

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ii timothy 2:15

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

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romans 3:1-2

1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.

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matthew 5:18

18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

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deuteronomy 13:1-5

1 "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

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jeremiah 23:25-29

25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

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my notes:

conclusion

So you dream? Do not let your heart be troubled. We have a more sure Word than a mystifying dream. So let the dreamer dream, but those who have the Word, let them rely on their God! Take your dream to the Word and follow what God has written.

"Dreams, which are the children of an idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy, which is as thin of substance as the air and more inconstant than the wind." —Shakespeare.