Rooted To A Dream
One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever.
Genesis 37:5 (NLT)
Dreams that are from God are spiritual experiences that root deep in our hearts, never to be forgotten. “Joseph had a dream,” but perhaps we could more accurately say that the dream had Joseph! The dream sustained him through all that happened to him over the years.
Somehow Joseph was at least somewhat aloof to all this rage and hatred that surrounded him. And, in youthful naivety, Joseph didn’t have the good sense to keep his mouth shut on an occasion in which he had a dream the meaning of which was exciting to him, but most certainly NOT to his brothers.
“Listen to this dream,” he said. “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!”
His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.
Genesis 37:6-8 (NLT)
Now, picture this teenaged Joseph, standing there in his regal tunic, all full of himself, telling this story to his 10 older brothers who knew full well this dream’s symbolism:
That they would, someday, all submit to Joseph as their master!
Here we see how God will communicate to Joseph (in dreams and visions), as opposed to the more direct, audible, even 2 way conversations He had with the Patriarchs.
But, we also need to understand that this was not unique to Joseph. Dreams and visions were standard ways that people of that era thought their god or gods communicated with them. And, people generally believed these prophetic visions.
But, it was also understood that the personality and ambitions of the dreamer also played a role in the dream; therefore, a dream was kind of a hybrid thing: it was an oracle or a prophecy that was part god and part the aspirations of the person having the dream.
Soon Joseph had another dream, and again he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,” he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!”
Genesis 37:9 (NLT)
In verse 9, he has another dream, and once again he can’t wait to tell everybody. The first dream he only told to his brothers; this dream he relates to his father, Jacob, as well. Now, he says, that the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him.
They again knew full well what THAT meant. But, it was even more insulting because in that era, and actually right down to pagan religions of our day, the sun represented the father figure, and the moon the mother, and the stars their offspring. So, Joseph was now saying that not only would his brothers bow down in subservience to him, but so would his own mother and father!
This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?” But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father wondered what the dreams meant.
Jacob tries to rein Joseph’s self-importance in a bit, by mocking him and saying
“……..are we to come, I and your mother…….and bow to the ground before you?”
Now his whole family must have thought Joseph was losing it and suffering from delusions of grandeur.
In fact, it will turn out, these dreams were accurate; further, that dream interpretation was a spiritual gift from God for Joseph. By the way, this passage lends credence that Bilah and Zilpah had become wives for Jacob. Because, though Rachel was long dead before this incident, here we Jacob respond with “so you say I and your mother….should bow down to you”. Rachel was Joseph’s mother, but Bilah had been her handmaiden. Bilah would have had much to do with Joseph’s upbringing. If Jacob had elevated Bilah’s status to a full wife, it would have been customary in that era to refer to her as “Joseph’s mother”.
Does God Speak To Us In Dreams Today?
Or do we get our guidance only from the Spirit of God using the Word of God as we pray and seek God’s will?
In the Old Testament, you find a good number of divine communications through dreams, both to believers and unbelievers, but this doesn’t seem to be the norm for New Testament Christians today. God communicated through dreams when He directed Joseph, the husband of Mary (Matt. 1:20-25; 2:12-13, 19-22), but there’s no evidence that anybody else in the Gospels or the Book of Acts ever received divine guidance through dreams.
When people claim that God has sent them dreams for their instruction and guidance, or the instruction of others, we need to be careful; for dreams can be self-induced or even influenced by Satan (Jer. 23:25-28).
Missionaries have told us about people they’ve met whose first interest in Christ and the Bible came through dreams, but it was the Word of God that finally brought them to the Savior. Certainly God is sovereign and can use dreams to accomplish His will if no other means is available, but His normal way to communicate is through the Spirit teaching the Word (John 14:25-26; 16:12-15).
In the future, Joseph would be involved in interpreting other men’s dreams (Gen. 40-41), but there’s no indication that he understood his own two dreams at that time. As he waited in prison, no doubt the meaning of the dreams became clearer and encouraged him (Ps. 105:16-23). Understanding God’s plan helped give him direction in his dealings with his brothers.
The immediate result of Joseph’s sharing his dreams was that his brothers hated him even more and also envied him in their hearts. He was his father’s favorite, chosen to receive the blessings of the firstborn, wearing a special garment, and now the recipient of strange dreams.
Why should he be so special? What would happen next?
|Amongst many believers and Pastors today it is very popular to put far too much emphasis on psychologically based "Holy Spirit inspired" dream interpretation, which does not line up with the Bible.
Many have allowed themselves to be misled by the wrong teachings of one very popular "Christian Dream Teacher" who teaches others to interpret dreams according to his "inspired" Dream Manual based on colors, shapes, numbers, symbols, etc. I see no evidence in Scripture for any such manual.
His followers seem to be misled by the fact that he has appeared on many popular Christian television programs. Well, there are many things on Christian television networks that do not line up with Scripture. Appearing on Christian television does not mean God is putting His stamp of approval on everything someone does.
The Bible and only the Bible is God's standard of measure.
Pastors and Christians, who allow others to do their studying for them, blindly following one popular error after another, always end up in a ditch on one side of the road.
Click here to find the scriptural balance in this study.