Christmas will soon be here. But did you know the key role dreams played in the story of this celebrated birth?

1. Joseph dreams of an angel telling him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife, even though she is with child. (Matthew 1:20)

2. The Lord God protects the Christ Child by warning the Magi in a dream, telling them not to return to Herod. (Matthew 2:12)

3. Angel appears to Joseph in a dream, telling him to flee to Egypt and stay there, awaiting further instruction. (Matthew 2:13)

4. When Herod was dead, an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, telling him to take the Child and His mother back to Israel. (Matthew 2:19, 20)

5. Joseph receives yet another dream warning him of danger, and he diverts his family to Nazareth. (Matthew 2:22-23)

Without dreams, there would be no Christmas

Mostly overlooked in the Christmas story is the fact that four of the five dreams came directly to Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. (According to Matthew, the fifth dream was given to heathen astrologers who cameled in from somewhere east of Bethlehem).

Actually, because we pay so little attention to dreams as a means for God to communicate with His creation, few people are even aware that, if you took away Joseph’s dreams, there would not even be a Christmas story.

Joseph might have named the baby Ichabod, or something; worse yet, he might have skipped town summarily to avoid the scandal of his girlfriend being pregnant long before the wedding.

Herod would have murdered the infant Jesus, along with all the other toddlers in Judea at that time.

If Joseph and Mary somehow escaped to Egypt, they might have stayed there and become expats courtesy of the Pharaoh (the dream brought them back home, remember?)

Had the Messiah and earthly parents eventually decided to return to Israel, they would have landed in Judea; they’d never have established a carpenter shop so the Messiah could come from Nazareth to fulfill that ancient promise of the prophets.

Dreams were prevalent in every biblical era

The Bible provides overwhelming evidence that dreams and visions were valued as a vital part of the way God communicates with His people. To start with, God Himself said He will speak through dreams.

“Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord, shall make myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream, not so with My servant Moses ... with him I speak mouth to mouth ... and not in dark sayings.” (Numbers 12:6-8)

A study of both the Old and New Testaments reveals that approximately one-third of the Bible involves supernatural data, dreams and visions. Baptist minister Herman Riffel identified 224 direct references to dreams and visions, with approximately 50 dreams specifically mentioned (Doctor & Doctor, “Dream Treasure, Learning the Language of Heaven,” p.52)

God promised to continue to speak through dreams

Not only did God speak through dreams and visions in the Old and New Testaments, He also says they are to continue through the Holy Spirit, even in the last days.

“It shall be in the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:1-18)

Voices of ancient and contemporary experts

Tertullian (c. 3rd), believed dreams are available to people today just as much as they were to the first apostles.

Augustine (c. 4th) taught dreams were important for understanding both human psychology and also our relationship with God.

Episcopalian priest Morton Kelsey (1978) claims dreams are a way to listen to God.

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck (1978) views dreams as manifestation of God’s grace.

Un-interpreted dreams are like “unopened letters”

In their very culture and way of life, Hebrew people valued the dream as a way for God to speak directly to them, giving them both divine knowledge, guidance, warnings, and gifts. Dreams were a given fact. The Rabbinical attitude reveals this: “Dreams which are not interpreted are like letters which have not been opened.” (Talmud)

Dream can bring pregnant mother peace

After several miscarriages, a woman became pregnant, but was paranoid she would lose this baby too. She asked the Lord to reassure her that He would be with her regardless of what happened. That night she dreamed: She saw herself giving birth to a baby girl, and she heard the words, “All will be well.” Peace flooded her when she awoke. Later, she gave birth to a baby girl on Christmas day. (Woman’s Day, Dec. 17, 1996)

Life gets so much easier if we learn to pay attention to those letters from God in the night!

“Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when sound sleep falls on men, while they slumber in their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.” (Job 33:14-16)

Judith Doctor, RN, MSW, is an Arcadian author, speaker, and spiritual mentor. Her live broadcasts can be heard monthly on Radio Horeb in Europe. Her books, “33 Ways: How to Unlock the Mystery of Your Dreams;” “Dream Treasure: Learning the Language of Heaven” and “I Forgive You: How Heart-Based Forgiveness Sets You Free” are available on Amazon and other online booksellers. www.judithdoctor.com

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