Do you ignore your dreams? Christmas is a good season to pay attention to them.
Do you know where the highest concentration of dreams occurs in the Bible? (Hint, think Christmas…)
It’s in the context of the story of Jesus’ birth, but only in one of the gospels (more on that soon).
Have you ever thought about the expression, “It’s a dream come true!” The logical connotation of that phrase would suggest that the vast majority of dreams do not in fact come true. It surprises us when it does.
Because we don’t take them seriously, most of us don’t pay attention to our dreams. We assume that our subconscious just imports events from our awake-world into our sleep-world–what we just watched, what we just read, what we just ate (particularly when we dream of a dancing burrito).
Whenever dreams are talked about in Scripture there’s no surprise, people assume the dream should be taken seriously since God speaks through dreams.
Three books of the Bible contain the vast majority of references to dreams: Genesis, Daniel, and Matthew. The dreamers of Genesis include Abimelech, Jacob, Laban, Joseph, the cupbearer, the baker and Pharaoh. In Daniel it’s Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel.
Curiously, Matthew is the only gospel writer to mention dreams. In Matthew the people who dream dreams are Joseph the adoptive father of Jesus, the wisemen (I think there were five of them), and Pilate’s wife. Matthew’s gospel speaks of six separate dreams,
five of them in the context of Jesus’ birth in only 28 verses (Matt. 1:20; 2:12, 13, 19, 22; 27:19). Joseph of Nazareth experienced four dreams recorded in Scripture, more than any other biblical character.
The dreams of Matthew aren’t primarily predicting the future, they are giving guidance, in each instance somehow protecting Jesus. Joseph’s dreams tell him: 1) Marry Mary, 2) Go to Egypt, 3) Return from Egypt, 4) Go to Galilee. The wisemen are told not to go back to Herod, and Pilate’s wife warns her husband to “have nothing to do with Jesus” (which Pilate ignores–how would things have been different if he had followed her advice?). All the dream warnings surrounding Jesus’ birth are heeded. Praise God that these people took dreams seriously.
Why does Matthew uniquely have so many dreams, particularly surrounding the birth of Jesus? I don’t know. But I do know God still speaks through dreams, and as we reflect on the birth of our saviour during this season of Advent, ask God to guide you as he did Joseph and the wisemen while you sleep.