By Femi Aribisala
In September 2012, I had a dream. I was somewhere high up in the mountains and did not know exactly what I was doing there. Suddenly, there was so much pomp and circumstance. A lot of security detail poured into the place and there was no room for me to quickly make my way out of there. I was wondering what all the palaver was about when out came President Barack Obama of the United States.
In real life, Obama comes across to me as a formal dresser. He is either wearing a suit and tie or a shirt and a tie. But in my dream, he was dressed casually. He had on a khaki-coloured “French suit.” Apparently, he came to the mountains to relax. He immediately sought me out and came towards me. He held out his hands and shook hands warmly with me. He smiled endearingly at me as flash-photographers took our pictures. He said nothing at all. There seemed to be no need to do so. Clearly, we knew one another quite well.
Theophanies of God.
Even while in my dream, I knew the Barack Obama of my dream was God. This kind of thing is called a theophany; a situation where God appears to man. As children of God, we will automatically know the Lord when we see him. We will recognise him in every disguise or representation. We don’t need to ask: “Who are you Lord?” Jesus says: “My sheep know me.” (John 10:14). Barack Obama, the President of the most powerful country in the world was in my dream a theophany of Almighty God; President of the heavens and the earth.
Theophanies are recorded in scripture, both in dreams and in person. The Lord appeared to Laban in a dream. (Genesis 31:24). He also appeared to Solomon in a dream. (1 King 3:5). When you tell people the Lord appeared to you in a dream, those who have not had such experience may be inclined to despise your dream. Don’t let this bother you. Even their skepticism is scriptural: “(Joseph’s) brothers hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.” (Genesis 37:8).
The scriptures authenticate our dreams. Another tell-tale sign in my dream is that the Lord appeared to me on a mountain. Moses says: “The LORD spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain.” (Deuteronomy 5:4). Why does the Lord do something like this? Again, the answer can be found in the scriptures. Sometimes it is a call to ministry or a confirmation of a ministry. God says: “If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.” (Numbers 12:6).
Those who seek God in their heart-of-hearts are inclined to receive dreams of the Almighty. Moses says: “You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.” (Deuteronomy 4:35). Those who ask God questions and expect him to answer might receive answers through dreams. Observe this: “When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.” (1 Samuel 28:6). This shows God sometimes answers our questions through dreams.
Not Just a dream
One of the mistakes we make when we dream is to say: “It is just a dream.” Take nothing for granted. When God gave Solomon wisdom such as he had never given to any man before, it was “just a dream:” “At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” “Then Solomon awoke; and indeed it had been a dream.” (I Kings 3:5/15).
What would have happened if Joseph had ignored the dream telling him to take the baby Jesus and his mother and to run to Egypt? (Matthew 2:13-14). They would have been killed. What would have happened if Abimelech had ignored the dream that warned him that Sarah was Abraham’s wife? (Genesis 20:3). He would have been condemned. What would have happened if Pharaoh had ignored the dream about the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine? “The seven thin heads devoured the seven plump and full heads. So Pharaoh awoke, and indeed, it was a dream.” (Genesis 41:7). If Pharaoh had not heeded this dream, Egypt would have starved to death.
Thus, God often uses dreams to counsel us and to give us direction. God gave to Jacob a business strategy through a dream that made him extremely wealthy. As a matter of fact, it made him wealthier than his boss. (Genesis 31:10-13). The psalmist says: “I will bless the Lord who counsels me; he gives me wisdom in the night. He tells me what to do.” (Psalm 16:7). Therefore, we must not ignore divine promptings and warnings given to us in dreams.
Sometimes, these come with a certain insistence. They are repeated again and again. Repetitive dreams are designed to impress on us the importance of the message in the dream: “The dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.” (Genesis 41:32).
Sometimes dreams are used to reveal to us the special will of God in our life. This was the case of Jacob in Bethel: “Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: ‘I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.’” (Genesis 28:12-13).
In a dream, I was sitting in a big theatre with lots of people. It might have been a church service, except there was no pulpit and no preacher. Then suddenly, a lion came out. I expected there to be pandemonium, but everyone remained in their seat. I was wondering if I was the only one who could see it. I thought: “Why is no one else afraid?”
Then the lion climbed off the stage, walked down the aisle and came to stand in front of me. I was mesmerized in my seat. Then just as amazingly, it started to play with me. I could see that all eyes were on us, but I was most uncomfortable. How do you play with a lion? What if it suddenly remembers it is a lion and turns violent? I just could not take my mind off the fact that it was a lion playing with me.
And then the lion did something even more puzzling. It showed me its claws. As it did, one of them grew out as if extended by hidden hydraulics. Then it put the claw into my eye and used it to stroke my eyeball!
Who is this lion? It is Jesus; “the lion of the tribe of Judah.” (Revelation 5:5). He uses such dreams to tell us he is our friend.