Everyone dreams about various wonderful things in his life and then start planning about life after fulfilling those visions. But after a while the reality of the situation all around becomes visible and the shape of the dreams also starts getting readjusted to reality. And then one would compromise with life and dreams are forgotten or remembered rarely. But do we dream just unreal things or is there some link of the dreams or visions with life? do the dreams really get fulfilled in someone’s life?
Why is it difficult to understand dreams? God communicates with human beings through dreams or visions ‘yet man does not perceive it’. These are images presented on the imagination of man during the in between state of sleeping and waking or when awake in bed, in deep thought, when their mind is not distracted by images of earthly things from the senses. There cannot be any better communicator than God and He knows the most suitable way to be used for each individual. Although the real purpose of this way of communication from God is not fully clear in the Scripture, yet Elihu’s interpretation to Job is about God keeping back ‘his soul from the Pit, and conceal pride from man’ (Job 33:14). Invariably people do not fully remember their dream or vision but God chooses this way, for imagery is the best way to communicate, since the power to remember is 6-7 times more than what is only heard. Also such visuals are in the form of a story and the one seeing that perceives himself as a participant in that and not a mere spectator. In addition, the part of the brain that helps in experiencing a situation also gets activated thus affecting our psychology, emotions, minds and also the bodies. Thus, we live the terror of evil and joy of a good experience in the dream and on waking up there is great relief but the effect of the dream remains. God activates our brain to act in this and we may be required to pray for someone’s deliverance from a painful situation or to open the doors for blessings to flow into someone’s life.
The disciples sought Lord Jesus to tell them the reason for speaking in parables and His answer was, ‘Who has ears, let him hear’ for everybody is not to ‘know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 13:9-15). And then He told the reason that ‘the hearts of these people have become dull. Their ears are hard of hearing and their eyes have closed’. After the fall of mankind, we were unable to hear and perceive the message of God and in the Old Testament times, prophets were chosen by God to carry and interpret to the people God’s message. God could speak to the intended audience directly also but He chooses a mediator and for a believer, the Holy Spirit is the One.
The Israelites were in exile in Babylon with little hope of returning home but God’s promise of not leaving nor forsaking His people, is also true. To encourage them in their exile God provided a very unusual visual display for His prophet depicting the desolation and loneliness of His people in exile (Ezekiel 37:1-12). The prophet was shown on the floor of the valley a great number of ‘very dry bones’ and commanded to say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD’. Prophet Ezekiel obeyed God and suddenly he saw the bones coming together, being covered with flesh but without breath. The next command was to say, ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live’.
Comparing the Israelites to the dry bones, God gave them assurance to get them back to the land of Israel despite their hopeless situation. The prophet of God did not look at the situation but obeyed God and could see the results for ‘with God nothing is impossible’. While facing a storm our mind keeps on reverting to the darkness all around and fear fills the heart causing despair. When this persists for some time, we feel abandoned by God also. In his trials, King David experienced this and cried out to God, ‘My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, ‘Where is your God?’ (Psalm 42:3). When no answer is forthcoming to our prayers, the first thing others start blaming is our lack of faith, weak commitment or lack of close relationship with God among other things. This puts the onus of getting an answer from God on us rather than on His grace and mercy, thus creating confusion in our minds. Then, we become unable to understand the prophetic message from God or start doubting that.
The disciples were struggling to reach the shore while facing the storm and Lord Jesus ‘came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by’ (Mark 6:48). Many think that the Lord is likely to pass by us in our storms and we should accept this. Prophet Elijah, when he went running to Horeb, the mountain of God, was commanded to stand ‘in the presence of the LORD for the LORD is about to pass by’ (1 Kings 19:11). Moses was told by the LORD, in answer to his prayer to see God’s glory, ‘while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock’ (Exodus 33:22). A dream or a vision from God is not that God desires to pass us by but it is His plan to reveal Himself to us to draw us to Him in faith. Since we feel differently, we invariably miss out on properly understanding the message of God.
Why do dreams and visions remain unfulfilled? Apostle Paul lived in two extremes of faith and persecuted the believers as Saul, for he was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, who had crucified Lord Jesus and did not consider nor accept Him as the Messiah. However, after he was touched by the glory of the Lord on the road to Damascus, he changed his name to Paul and turned out to be the greatest Apostle who touched and continues to affect the lives of millions all over the world. He has said, ‘it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:13). Any vision is the desire planted by God in us is to follow His will, in faith for He wants to work that out through us and like the fruit of a tree is never for itself, our works in such a manner may be for blessing someone else.
Jewish legend has it that Miriam, the elder sister of Moses was a prophetess and she is mentioned before Aaron despite being a woman (Exodus 15:20). Miriam had a vision about her brother freeing the Israelites from Egyptian slavery but Pharaoh had commanded the throwing of all Hebrew boys at birth into the Nile River to kill them. Amram, Moses’ father who was a Levite, and his wife Jochebed, separated from each other to avoid having a child but on Miriam’s repeated urging they again got together and Moses was born. Thus, Miriam’s vision from God was fulfilled. After the disobedience and rejection of Saul, the first king of Israel, by God, Prophet Samuel was commanded by God to go to the house of Jesse, the Bethlehemite, ‘for I have provided Myself a king among his sons’ (1 Samuel 16:1, 11-13). Seven sons of Jesse were rejected by God and David, the youngest was not even considered fit by Jesse to be called before the Prophet. Eventually he was called and anointed as the next king of Israel. At that time David was a young boy, aged around 15 years but he became king only at the age of thirty years to fulfill the word from God to Prophet Samuel.
Invariably, we are filled with a strong desire to do something and we start praying earnestly but after a while the situation in our life changes and we start scaling down the prayer and even abandon that. We forget the basic Word of God that it is His will for us and He will lead us into its fulfillment. Once we have prayed as per the dream or a vision there is always a preparatory period before its fulfillment. David was in the wilderness for about thirteen years and even the Son of God had to wait till thirty years of age to start His work as the Messiah. Suppose we are promised a bicycle, for that to come through will not take long for we will learn about riding it after receiving it with little or no risk of serious injury to self or others. On the other hand if we seek a motor-cycle or a car or any other such thing, the training and waiting period for that will be much longer due to risk to self and others. Many dreams remain unfulfilled for want of patience and perseverance.
The vision to Prophet Ezekiel to speak to the dry bones had various steps; first, was to visualize the situation and faithful obedience; second, to speak to the dry bones and see them getting together into human forms; the third, was to call out to the breath from the four winds and finally it was to preach this to the Israelites in exile in Babylon. He could have stopped at any stage and it would have been unfulfilled. Judas Iscariot was also chosen by the Lord and the vision of salvation and eternal life was given to him also. Though the other disciples also thought the Savior would establish His kingdom by defeating the Romans but Judas in his greed, deceived His Master by joining the Jewish leaders and finally committed suicide. Fulfillment of any dream or vision has a cost attached to it and this could be submission of our will, temptation and trials by the devil, physical, social or financial penalty or even desertion by others. If we are not willing for this, God is unlikely to do anything beyond the initial image that we see.
What should we do for the fulfillment of our long pending dreams? Job was declared righteous by God Himself but his three friends repeatedly blamed him for not repenting of some grievous sins that he had committed in the past. But he claimed his innocence and could say, ‘till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go, my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live’ (Job 27:5-6). Apostle Peter has defined the identity of a born again believer that by knowing God we have been given ‘exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust’ (2 Peter 1:4). We are part-takers of God’s divine nature for God dwells in us in His Spirit.
A lion is a king of the forest and no one teaches him to live and behave like that, though he is not the largest or the mightiest beast of the jungle. He is filled with that kingly nature and every other animal recognizes that. Do we ever identify ourselves with what Apostle Peter has said? Do we ever live as a child of God who is a rightful heir of all this with Lord Jesus and contest the claims of the devil? How can we expect realization of our dreams, if we do not dream as per divine nature and then thankfully wait for their coming true? King David advises us to ‘delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart’ (Psalm 37:4). To delight in Him we have to know Him and be in a close relationship with Him and this will also ensure right alignment of our desires with His will as revealed in His Word.
The first step in realizing our dreams is to have a dream or a vision. God commanded Moses to send 12 men to ‘spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel’ (Numbers 13:2). But they could not visualize their ownership and claim that and saw the giants and were afraid. The Lord finally told them, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you’ and only Joshua and Caleb could claim their inheritance (Numbers 14:28).
Second is to focus on the objective and not the world and the circumstances. The Apostle has warned, ‘whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God’ and surely no one wants enmity with God (James 4:4). Therefore seek God earnestly every day in and through His Word
Third, discard the attitude of not forgiving others, completely – The Lord’s Prayer lays this condition on us for if we do not forgive others so will not God forgive us also. We must ‘lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares’ and the sin of not forgiving is a weight and a trap (Hebrews 12:1). Carrying the image of God, who is the great ‘I AM’ of the present, how can we live chained to the past. Apostle Paul teaches us to reach ‘forward to those things (your dreams) which are ahead’ (Philippians 3:13).
Four, be filled with overflowing love –In the Sermon on the Mount, Lord Jesus has commanded us, ‘love your enemies, bless those who curse you’ (Matthew 5:44). Apostle Paul has quoted some traits of love but it is not so simple also, for God expressed His love in and through His Son and Apostle Peter struggled to express his love for the Lord after denying Him (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). The greatest act of love is to preach the Gospel to the lost.
Five, pray for and speak your dreams to God – Our thoughts and spoken words connect us to the power of God. Lord Jesus taught the disciples through the parable of speaking to the mountain ‘he will have whatever he says’. A man’s heart is the place of his desires and He who searches the hearts has said, ‘out of the abundance of the heart mouth speaks’ and if the connection between the words and dreams is faulty, it will hinder fulfillment (Luke 6:45).
Six, continue in faith and patience – We desire immediate fulfillment of everything that we seek from God but the Scripture teaching is ‘through faith and patience inherit the promises’ (Hebrews 6:12). It is about obediently continuing, without wavering, continually growing in faith and in the Word without giving up, for a larger blessing may take longer to come through.
Seven, develop an attitude of gratitude – We hear many say, I pay tithe, regularly go to church but good things rarely come my way as I see others receiving. Rashi, the famous Jewish Rabbi attributes this psalm to Moses but others accept King David, the ‘man after God’s heart’ as the writer (Psalm 100:4). The message is ‘Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name’. Grumbling and complaining takes us out of the ‘zone of God’s rain of blessings’ while thankfulness fills us with His power. An old man who survived the death camp of Auschwitz watched the school buses carrying Jewish children to their schools daily. On being asked, he told that he thanks God everyday for the dry bones or Jewish dead during holocaust are alive in the children. Speak to your dry bones, your dead dreams and breathe life into them and seek God with gratitude for His power to work in confirmation of His Word through the Holy Spirit. He is faithful and true to execute what He has promised in His Word.
Abraham received God’s promise to bless his generations by giving them the whole land of Canaan, to whatever distance he could see. But this remained unfulfilled during his life and in the Scripture, he is declared righteous for his faith. Apostle Paul’s vision of witnessing the Lord Jesus before kings was fulfilled by his being taken as a prisoner to Rome. Are we willing to continue diligently in faith to see God working in our lives to bring to fruition what we have seen or dreamt about? Perseverance in faith is the key to success in anything!