Most of us dream.
We have weird dreams, unsettling dreams, scary dreams, erotic dreams, violent dreams and dreams that seem really important when we’re having them, but can’t remember when we wake up.
Carl Jung, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, is considered the foremost theorist of dream theory and his ideas still influence psychoanalysis today.
Jung believed the purpose of dreams is to integrate our subconscious self with our conscious self, a process he called individuation.
He believed dreams operated on the symbolic level and certain archetypes, such as a dream of one’s mother could have significance for the dreamer’s waking life.
When I worked as a therapist, people would often ask me what certain dreams meant.
Most of the time, they really were just a dream and had nothing to do with the client’s situation.
But if the dream was a recurring one, I paid a lot of attention to it.
Dreams a person has repeatedly may indicate an attempt by the subconscious to urge the conscious to deal with a suppressed matter.
Dreams play a significant role in the Bible. They were often a means for God to deliver an urgent message to the dreamer.
Joseph, the step-father of Jesus, had three dreams recorded in the Gospel of Matthew.
The first was just after Mary informed him she was pregnant.
He decided he wouldn’t publicly shame Mary and just divorce her quietly.
But an angel came to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
“She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus [meaning the Lord saves] because he will save his people from their sins …
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him …”
After the Magi left Bethlehem (secretly, also warned in a dream), an angel warned Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt since King Herod was planning to slaughter all infant boys in Bethlehem.
Then, after Herod died, an angel appeared to Joseph again in a dream, saying it was safe to return home.
In all three cases, Joseph’s dreams were critical for the safety and wellbeing of the infant Jesus.
Another Joseph, he of the “coat of many colours,” was a noted dreamer.
His 11 brothers were not impressed because the dreams he told them about indicated that they would become his servants.
This really infuriated them and he was even rebuked by his own father for his impertinent dreams.
Later, Isaac sends his son Joseph on an errand to his brothers.
They spot him from afar and say, “Here comes that dreamer! ...
“Come now, let’s kill and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
Reuben, the eldest brother, convinces the rest to sell Joseph to some passing traders heading to Egypt.
Joseph, after being falsely accused of rape, ends up in jail but his reputation as a dream interpreter catches the attention of Pharaoh.
He ends up as the prime minister of Egypt and his unwitting brothers fulfill his dream prediction by bowing down before him.
It’s a dramatic story told many times on the big screen, but it is the dreams that are the centre of it all.
In ancient times, people expected prophets would receive messages in dreams.
But, there are several instances where false prophets used fake dreams to influence the people in a wrong direction.
Moses warned the people during their wanderings in the desert: “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you …and the prophet says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ [gods you have not known] ‘and let us worship them’, you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer.”
God repeats the warning in a message to the prophet Jeremiah saying, “I am against those who prophesy false dreams ...”
The prophet Joel records that, in the “last days” [i.e. now], “I will pour out my Spirit on all people …your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions …”
Apparently, this phenomenon has been happening in non-Christian countries, often where Islam predominates, where people have been having intense dreams of Jesus, leading to a conversion experience.
Some documentaries have been made with interesting stories and some may wish to Google them to find out more.
Dreams can be extremely important, or meaningless, or even used to mislead others.
It takes real wisdom to know if they truly mean something.
When it comes to dreams — proceed with caution.
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