I have a question about God speaking to us in our dreams. What do you think of Job 33:14-18? “For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword.” Would it be a stretch to believe that God can still speak to us in our dreams to warn us about sin and wrongdoing? Thanks a lot for your time.
Clearly God CAN speak to us in dreams. God can do whatever he wants, and it is certainly not my place to presume what he can and will do. He certainly has done so in the past. He spoke to Nebuchadnezzar in dreams at least twice–in Daniel 2 and 4, for example. He spoke to Abraham in a dream-like state in Genesis 15. More commonly, God spoke to the prophets in visions rather than dreams, such as to John in Revelation and to Daniel multiple times. Your use of Job is interesting. A good find, I would say, and it does demonstrate that God can and perhaps even will speak to his people in dreams.
However, we need to put these facts into historical context. Job was a patriarch and most likely was not even Jewish. As far as we know, he had no direct access to canonical authoritative truth such as we have in the Old and the New Testaments. The situation with Abraham is similar and it is also a one-off sort of thing. God communicated with his people in patriarchal times in different ways than he does now for good reason. The situation with Nebuchadnezzar was surely a special one. God does not intervene in history except very rarely and for a specific purpose, such as in order to produce the amazing prophetic visions and prophecies in Daniel. Also, Nebuchadnezzar was a chosen instrument, as prophesied in Isaiah 37 and elsewhere. I believe that these examples are exceptions, with a specific purpose that God had in mind. This does not apply to you and me today as far as I know. We are not linchpins in God’s plan to save humanity.
So, here is the question: Not whether God could or even whether he might speak to us individually through a dream, but whether he in fact will. I have no biblical warrant for believing that God speaks to us in dreams today as Christians. We have what Job and Nebuchadnezzar and even Daniel did not have, which is the completed scripture which is sufficient knowledge for us (2 Tim 3:16, Heb 2:1-4). I cannot say for sure and I would not preclude in an absolute sense that God might, for some reason we are not privy to, speak to someone in a dream, but it seems extremely unlikely, bordering on straining credulity that, in the present situation for us with the completed revelation, that God would do so.
Of course, to some extent, I am applying human reasoning here, but bear in mind that there is no indication in the New Testament that we should expect such a thing. Now, let us consider this. Let us suppose that God were to speak to someone in a dream. How would one know that this dream was in fact from God, rather than the production of a brain doing what it naturally does when we are sleeping, which is create very interesting mental pictures out of stored information in our brains? I believe it is vastly more likely that a person would have a regular dream and falsely tell themselves that it was from God than that a person would have a legitimate dream which was actually put in our brains by God. Add to this that there is really no way to confirm that such a thing was indeed God speaking to us, and add to that the fact that we have the scripture which is sufficient for knowledge of things about God, and I am going to pour a lot of cold water on the idea that we as believers should look to our dreams to hear from God. In fact, I would strongly encourage people not to do so.
Could it happen? I suppose so. In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, when he had this dream it must have been extraordinarily vivid and totally different from any other dream he had ever had. When he awoke he knew with total conviction that this was not an ordinary dream. I suggest that unless a person has something utterly unique like this happen while dreaming, then it is counterproductive and likely even dangerous to try to interpret our dreams as being put into our minds by God. I believe that we have scripture and spiritual friends, as well as the prompting of the Holy Spirit (while we are awake!) to help us to be forewarned about temptations and pitfalls which would lead us to sin. That should be enough. So, yes, I believe it is a stretch to believe that God will do this.