Prophet Joseph Smith said “We believe that we have a right to revelations, visions, and dreams from God, our Heavenly Father; and light and intelligence, through the gift of the Holy Ghost . . . on all subjects pertaining to our spiritual welfare; if it so be that we keep his commandments, so as to render ourselves worthy in his sight.”
CORRECTION – in the podcast I said Lehi had dreams, he had dreams AND visions 🙂
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. [Acts 2:1–2, 4, 14, 16–17]
–GREAT READS FROM PODCAST–
–NOTES FROM PODCAST —
(warning they are random but links are above =)
One of the great tragedies of life, it seems to me, is when a person classifies himself as someone who has no talents or gifts. When, in disgust or discouragement, we allow ourselves to reach depressive levels of despair because of our demeaning self-appraisal, it is a sad day for us and a sad day in the eyes of God. For us to conclude that we have no gifts when we judge ourselves by stature, intelligence, grade-point average, wealth, power, position, or external appearance is not only unfair but unreasonable.
From D&C 46:11–12, we have this truth: “For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
“To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.”
God has given each of us one or more special talents. Socrates made the famous statement, “The unexamined life is not worth living” (“Apology,” The Dialogues of Plato, trans. Benjamin Jowett, Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952, p. 210). It is up to each of us to search for and build upon the gifts which God has given. We must remember that each of us is made in the image of God, that there are no unimportant persons. Everyone matters to God and to his fellow me
Near the end of his Liberty Jail ordeal, the Prophet Joseph Smith conveyed to Isaac Galland: “We believe that we have a right to revelations, visions, and dreams from God, our Heavenly Father; and light and intelligence, through the gift of the Holy Ghost . . . on all subjects pertaining to our spiritual welfare; if it so be that we keep his commandments, so as to render ourselves worthy in his sight.” Joseph Smith experienced and understood revelation, and the Prophet’s life teaches us that as we live in righteousness our Father in Heaven will communicate in a variety of ways and in unique circumstances.
Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, was caught up in that same spirit of Joel on the day of Pentecost. He wanted the people to be caught up in the spirit of prophecy, vision, and dreams as they contemplated the mission of our Lord and Savior. He testified to them of Jesus Christ, saying, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). As we pause tonight to contemplate another new year, I would hope that for a few minutes we could catch the spirit of Joel or of Peter as we reflect on prophecy, vision, and dreams.
Sometimes references in the scriptures to visions and dreams are used interchangeably. Elder Bruce R. McConkie made the distinction: “An inspired dream is a vision given to a person while he sleeps. . . . All inspired dreams are visions, but all visions are not dreams. Visions are received in hours of wakefulness or of sleep and in some cases when the recipient has passed into a trance; it is only when the vision occurs during sleep that it is termed a dream. Sleep is something we all have in common. What satisfaction or level of enjoyment we gain from the experience varies, as does the effect it has on our mind and heart. Most of our subconscious state goes without memory. Irrational and absurd dreams are easily dismissed by an individual who has the Spirit of God. But on occasion the Lord judiciously issues dreams for his divine purposes and an individual’s personal growth. Elder Parley P. Pratt, who was himself given to prophetic dreams,described:
In all ages and dispensations God has revealed many important instructions and warnings to men by means of dreams.
When the outward organs of thought and perception are released from their activity, the nerves unstrung, and the whole of mortal humanity lies hushed in quiet slumbers, in order to renew its strength and vigor, it is then that the spiritual organs are at liberty, in a certain degree, to assume their wonted functions, to recall some faint outlines, some confused and half-defined recollections, of that heavenly world, and those endearing scenes of their former estate, from which they have descended in order to obtain and mature a tabernacle of flesh.
Elder Pratt alluded to instructions and warnings as the purpose for God giving dreams to individuals at times. He also suggested that dreams are sometimes for “recall” or divine recollections of our origin and purpose as we journey in the flesh and develop a “mature tabernacle of flesh.” Dreams may also confirm premonitions or show something that is about to happen. An inspired dream might entail a warning—a rebuke for course correction—it might convey a direct command to do something, or it might serve as spiritual assurance or bestow a promise. In every dispensation dreams have been a prevalent spiritual gift, and the gift is validated in scripture
That our Father in Heaven communicates through dreams is indicated early in the standard works. For example, in the Old Testament we read of dreams given to Abimelech, Jacob, Laban the Syrian, Joseph, and two men—a baker and a butler—from Pharaoh’s court. In the New Testament, the book of Matthew identifies six dreams: four to Joseph, one to the Wise Men, and one to Pilate’s wife regarding the Savior’s innocence. In the Book of Mormon, Lehi took his family into the wilderness based upon a divine dream. It was a dream that sent Nephi and his brothers back for the brass plates and most likely for Ishmael’s family. Lehi also had a dream (vision) regarding the tree of life.
Joseph of Egypt. Around the age of seventeen, Joseph had two dreams, the imagery of which varied. But the meaning of the dreams was one and the same. In them obeisance, an act of reverence by bowing in honor, was made to young Joseph (see Genesis 37:7–9). The fact that he conveyed the dreams to his family suggests that he felt the dreams had significance and were sent by God, but doing so elicited his brothers’ envy and his father’s rebuke. We do not know from the text how much he understood the meaning of the dreams or the timeline for their fulfillment.
Under the circumstances it would be natural that Joseph would recall his own “doubled” dreams in which his family made obeisance to him. Dreams that have been doubled, or multiplied, should be given somber attention both in reflection and in writing, and the recipient should “[keep] all these things, and [ponder] them” (Luke 2:19). But it must be remembered that for an individual to pretend to have the gift of the interpretation of dreams, or for an individual to share nonsensical dreams as a divine message from God, would be detrimental—spiritually and mentally. The Lord has warned: “I am against them that prophesy false dreams . . . and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them” (Jeremiah 23:32). But such was not the case with Joseph, and there is solid evidence that Joseph was purposefully placed to fulfill his role in mortality. The Lord likewise inspired his interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dreams. It is safe to assume Joseph respected his gifts regarding dreams and acted with the sanction of the spirit. Pharaoh himself exclaimed, “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?” (Genesis 41:38).
In general, recording dreams strengthens the relationship between the Lord and the individual to which the dream is given.
As we record inspired dreams, we can more readily see the Lord’s hand in our life and his tender mercies extended in our behalf. The Book of Daniel provides several accounts wherein we see the Lord blessing Daniel with knowledge and wisdom through dreams and visions. In large part this is the result of Daniel’s inquisitive mind and heart and his desire to know the truth and interpretation of that which God was generously bestowing upon him (see Daniel 7:16).
Matthew stands alone from the other Gospel writers in noting that Pilate’s wife “suffered many things” by a dream; having had it revealed to her that Jesus Christ was a “just man” (see Matthew 27:19). Her husband rejected her sufferings and pleas and did not concern himself with her dream. Pilate, much like Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon, rejected his wife’s dream because he did not feel and understand the Spirit of the Lord and its workings upon God’s children.
Lehi. Lehi’s dreams are an integral part of Nephite religious history. Over five hundred years after Lehi landed in the promised land, an anti-Christ named Korihor ridiculed the foolishness of Nephites who paid heed to dreams and visions. In his deceiving rhetoric, he said the priests “lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers. . . and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries
Prior to Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the Lord prepared the mind and heart of his father, Joseph Smith Sr., to believe his son’s vision. From 1811 to 1819, Joseph Smith Sr. received at least seven dreams
“It is to teach us a principle.” President Wilford Woodruff proposed that “we may have dreams about things of great importance, and dreams of no importance at all. . . . There are a great many things taught us in dreams that are true, and if a man has the spirit of God he can tell the difference between what is from the Lord and what is not. . . . Whenever you have a dream that you feel is from the Lord, pay attention to it.” He illustrated this truth by recounting an occurrence during a mission in England:
When I was in the City of London on one occasion, with Brother George A. Smith, I dreamt that my wife came to me and told me that our first child had died. I believed my dream, and in the morning while at breakfast, I felt somewhat sad. Brother George A. noticed this and I told him my dream. Next morning’s post brought me a letter from my wife, conveying the intelligence of the death of my child. It may be asked what use there was in such a thing. I don’t know that there was much use in it except to prepare my mind for the news of the death of my child. But what I wanted to say in regard to these matters is, that the Lord does communicate some things of importance to the children of men by means of visions and dreams as well as by the records of divine truth. And what is it all for? It is to teach us a principle. We may never see anything take place exactly as we see it in a dream or a vision, yet it is intended to teach us a principle.
A glimpse of our glorious potential. Dreams can encourage us in the path of righteousness and sustain us in afflictions. While frustrating mortal concerns bear down upon us, we may receive eternal glimpses of our future state of existence. In the winter of 1831–32 while suffering from an illness, Parley P. Pratt, who helped establish the settlement of the Saints in western Missouri, experienced the following dream:
To impel us to do that which is required. As a young Apostle, Spencer W. Kimball was privileged to learn from George F. Richards (1861–1950),who was an alert man and attentive to God-given dreams. He did not think they were the least unusual for the faithful. While addressing the topic of dreams in a general conference, President Kimball referred to the following experience told by George F. Richards in council with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles nearly thirty years earlier.
I believe in dreams, brethren. The Lord has given me dreams which to me are just as real and as much from God as . . . any . . . that we might read in the scriptures. . . . It is not out of place for us to have important dreams. . . . More than 40 years ago I had a dream which I am sure was from the Lord. In this dream I was in the presence of my Savior as he stood mid-air. He spoke no word to me, but my love for him was such that I have not words to explain. I know that no mortal man can love the Lord as I experienced that love for the Savior unless God reveals it to him. I would have remained in his presence, but there was a power drawing me away from him.
As a result of that dream, I had this feeling that no matter what might be required of my hands, what the gospel might entail unto me, I would do what I should be asked to do even to the laying down of my life. . . . If only I can be with my Savior and have that same sense of love that I had in that dream, it will be the goal of my existence, the desire of my life.
“It means God knows who I am.” More recently Elder David A. Bednar shared an experience in general conference having to do with dreams. He spoke of an alert stake president who was prompted to know the names of all the youth in his stake. Shortly after learning all of their names from snapshots he had had taken, the Lord sent him a dream. Elder Bednar described the experience:
One night the priesthood leader had a dream about one of the young men whom he knew only from a picture. In the dream he saw the young man dressed in a white shirt and wearing a missionary name tag. With a companion seated at his side, the young man was teaching a family. The young man held the Book of Mormon in his hand, and he looked as if he were testifying of the truthfulness of the book. The priesthood leader then awoke from his dream.
At an ensuing priesthood gathering, the leader approached the young man he had seen in his dream and asked to talk with him for a few minutes. After a brief introduction, the leader called the young man by name and said: “I am not a dreamer. I have never had a dream about a single member of this stake, except for you. I am going to tell you about my dream, and then I would like you to help me understand what it means.” The priesthood leader recounted the dream and asked the young man about its meaning. Choking with emotion, the young man simply replied, “It means God knows who I am.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith constantly urged the Saints to obtain knowledge of heaven for themselves: “It is a great thing to inquire at the hands of God, or to come into His presence; and we feel fearful to approach Him on subjects that are of little or no consequence, to satisfy the queries of individuals, especially about things the knowledge of which men ought to obtain in all sincerity, before God, for themselves, in humility by the prayer of faith.”
Sharing inspired dreams (or any personal revelation) should be guarded by inspired wisdom (see D&C 63:64). As he addressed the newly formed Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1835, the Prophet encouraged propriety with sacred experiences: “Let us be faithful and silent, brethren, and if God gives you a manifestation, keep it to yourselves. Similarly, the prophet Jeremiah had to confront people in his day who claimed to have inspired dreams or stole the words and revelations of others and manipulated them for their own dishonest purposes. Jeremiah declared: “I am against the prophets [false prophets or pretended prophets] . . . that steal my words everyone from his neighbor. . . . I am against [those] . . . that use their tongues and say, He saith. . . . Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams . . . and do tell them . . . and cause my people to err by their lies” (see Jeremiah 23:30–32).
“‘Manu,’ Peter said, ‘prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the greatest of God’s gifts. Prayer is not to tell God which blessings and gifts He should give you, but to ask for gifts that God is already willing to give and is simply waiting for you to ask for.’ One of the most repeated phrases by the Savior is, ‘ask and ye shall receive.’ This passage is found over forty times in the scriptures.”
It also states that vision is the act of seeing with the eye something supposedly seen by other than normal sight: a mental image, an imaginative contemplation, a force of the imagination,or (I don’t know how this one got in there) something or someone—especially a woman—extraordinarily beautiful. Finally, the dictionary defines dreams as a sequence of sensations, images, and thoughts passing through a sleeping person’s mind, a fanciful vision, a fancy of the conscious mind, or a fond hope or aspiration.