During the dawn of time, mankind referred to dreams to communicate with higher beings. Dreams became the mirrors to take a glimpse of the future and the compass to guide our ancestors.

In the Bible, dreams are sources of divine revelations— guiding the people on what they should do, explaining the present, and revealing the future. 

What are Dreams According to the Bible?

God has given people important messages in several different ways. As the Bible wrote, He sometimes used dreams to communicate with His chosen ones. 

These dreams were straightforward and logical compared to ordinary dreams. The dreams of God were clear and distinct and had a specific message. 

For example, the prophet Daniel dreamed of several beasts representing political kingdoms from Babylon to the present day. ( Daniel 7: 1-3, 17 ).

And it was in a dream that God urged Joseph of Nazareth, Jesus’ adoptive father, to flee to Egypt with his wife and child. In this way, Jesus escaped being killed by the evil King Herod. After Herod’s death, God told Joseph in a dream that he and his family would return to their homeland.

The people in the Bible knew that their dreams might be from God, so they listened and adhered carefully to their dreams as a source of guidance.

Dreams in the Old Testament

In the old testament, people perceived dreams could express a divine message. These dreams were a way to see into the future or receive messages from the gods. And consequently, they devoted much time to dream interpretation or Oneiromancy

Interpreting Dreams have already been evident in ancient literary sources and play an important role in the Mesopotamian “Epic of Gilgamesh.”  In the Homeric poems, dream interpretation also occurs on many occasions.

From Old Norse times, Snorre tells in his royal tales how Halvdan Svarte dreamed of the future when he slept in a pigsty. Even in many Icelandic genealogies, dream interpretation is an important part of the course of events.

Three Types of Dreams in the Bible

Based on biblical teachings, we can classify dreams into three categories:

Spiritual Attacks

According to Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and Jude 1:8, Some dreams may be false messages from our spiritual enemies.

In Jeremiah 23:32, God warned about the “smooth-tongued” false prophets: “Their imaginary dreams are blatant lies that lead my people to sin. I did not appoint or send them; they have no message for my people.”

Important Messages

God sometimes gives special dreams. Examples are the dreams experienced by the two pharaohs in Genesis 41:1-7, Solomon in 1 Kings 3:5, Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:28, Joseph in Genesis 37:5-10, and the dreams before the birth of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 1–2. These dreams gave important messages to God’s servants.

Subconscious Processing

Some dreams are the product of our subconscious. These can be experiences, past events, unfulfilled hopes, and hidden desires.

For instance, Isaiah wrote, “A hungry person dreams of eating but wakes up still hungry” in Isaiah 29:8. Solomon says, “Too much activity gives you restless dreams” in Ecclesiastes 5:3.

The Nature of Dreams in the Bible

Generally, the Bible speaks of dreams in a very down-to-earth and realistic way. In the book of Job and the Psalms, for example, the dream is described as something that “flies away” (Job 20: 8). It is something fleeting that “is gone when one awakens” (Psalm 73:20).

At the same time, in both the Old and New Testaments, people were convinced that God could speak to people through dreams in exceptional cases. The book of Job describes sleep as a state in which God can “open the ears of men” to his voice (Job 33: 14-16).

God’s influence encompasses our whole life. In the same way that a person can be affected by God’s spirit when awake, God can speak to her in sleep, through dreams.

God can use the dream to reveal things to his servants — either through their own or others’ dreams. But it is clear from the Bible stories that these are exceptional events and not something that touches our ordinary, nocturnal dreams.

God also warns against “false prophets” which refer to dreams they have had and claim to be God’s mouthpiece and pass on God’s prophetic words:

“I have heard what the prophets say, those who prophesy lies in my name: ‘I have had a dream, I have had a dream!’. The prophet who has had a dream, let him tell a dream, but he who has received my word, let him faithfully speak my word. I am against the prophets. Those who speak the word of their tongue and saith, Thus saith the Lord. I have not sent them or given them a commission ”

(Jer 23: 25-32)

Praying About Our Dreams

In an article by Bill Gaultiere, he wrote that ‘the spirit of truth’ is working deep inside our soul and body. It prays earnestly to help us become more conscious of our reality and God’s presence and action. It also helps us know our inner selves and experiences. 

Dreams are also God’s way of helping us pay attention to what he is saying and our situation.

The spirit of Jesus is continually praying for us, but we frequently don’t notice it because we’re busy with mundane things. But when we go to sleep and rest ourselves, this gives the Holy Spirit more room to bring images, ideas, and feelings into our awareness.

Dreams in the Bible

Sometimes, God communicates to people in dreams. These dreams can be symbolic or straightforward instructions from God.

Jacob’s Ladder

(Genesis 28:12)

When Jacob is on the run from his brother, who wants to kill him, he stops to sleep one night and dreams of a great stairway stretching from heaven to earth.

This great stairway has divine beings moving up and down from it, and at the top of the ladder was the Lord. He promised Jacob that he would return home and the generations coming from him would possess Canaan.

The Cupbearer’s Grapes

(Genesis 40:9–15)

Through a chain of unfortunate events, Joseph found himself in prison. There he met two other prisoners with disturbing dreams. These two prisoners were the pharaoh’s former baker and cupbearer.

The cupbearer dreams of a grapevine with three branches. He told Joseph that in his dream, he harvested the grapes and pressed them into the pharaoh’s cup. 

Joseph interpreted that the cupbearer would regain his position in the court after three days.

The Baker’s Baskets

(Genesis 40:16–19)

The baker also retold his dream. According to him, he carries three bread baskets on his head when the birds eat from them. But the meaning of his dream is a grave one. Joseph interpreted that the baker would be beheaded after three days.

King Solomon’s Blank Check

(1 Kings 3:5–15)

In his dream, King Solomon, the son of David, was offered a divine blank check by God. He can use this blank check for anything in the world. But Solomon, instead of asking for mundane things, asked for wisdom.

The Statue of Nebuchadnezzar

(Daniel 2)

King Nebuchadnezzar had a terrifying dream, and the wise Hebrew man, Daniel, was the only one who interpreted it.

In his dream, a huge statue of him made of various materials (representing the different Kingdoms of the world) was smashed by a giant stone, which turned into a mountain. The dream symbolizes the coming kingdom of God.


Not a single place in the Bible calls on believers to search for secret signs from God in their or others’ dreams. It is because of the simple reason that there are no such hidden messages. Nor does God urge us anywhere to strive to receive revelations from Him in the dream. 

Revelation is something that God gives on his terms – not ours. And when he does, he does so in such an unmistakable way that there is no doubt about their origin. Our dreams can be an opportunity for greater self-awareness and understanding of God’s wisdom for you. 

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