Could our dreams be a window into the spiritual realm? Could we be connecting with heaven while we sleep?
Could our dreams be a window into heavenly places?
Can we meet God and other heavenly beings in our dreams?
This article explores these questions from biblical and personal perspectives.
I approach dream interpretation from a biblical perspective. My belief is that our dreams can come from God, and understanding them is best understood within the context of an ongoing relationship with Him.
Dreams feature in films and media
Have you noticed that dreams seem to feature a lot in novels and movies these days, and that often more significance is given to them than just the subconscious workings of the mind?
For example, in a film I have just watched on Netflix Called ‘The Old Guard’, the main characters (who are meant to be immortal) find and connect with each other through their dreams (you can see the scene in the YouTube video below).
This is not a new concept. For example in Rick Riordan’s fantasy novels, dreams are frequently used to give the ‘demi-gods’ guidance. Sometimes we understand that they are witnessing real events or communicating with other people while they sleep.
At times the characters seem to enter ‘higher’ dimensions in their dreams, whether for good or bad, and receive visitations from other people and beings. Here is a summary of dreams in the Percy Jackson novels, which is worth a read out of interest!
‘That’s just fiction’, I hear you cry! Well you are right, it is fiction, but it seems feasible to me that God could be using modern day arts and media to help us appreciate spiritual truths we have forgotten!
Heavenly dreams are in the bible
Those of you who are Christians will know that dream scenarios similar to those I have just described are recorded in the bible – so maybe it’s not as far fetched as we might think!
I recently spent some time reading and reflecting on all the dreams I could find listed in the bible, and found 21 direct (plus 3 indirect) references to real dreams and how God spoke through them.
Ten of those dreams were symbolic and needed interpreting, but many did contain more literal-sounding aspects. For example, just from going through that list, I found the following supernatural events described as happening in dreams:
- The dreamer talked with God – 4 occurrences
- The dreamer saw what was happening in heaven – 2 occurrences
- The dream saw or talked with angelic beings – 6 occurrences
Jacob’s dream of a stairway
Let me share with you one of the most famous examples:
‘Jacob’s ladder’ is a well known bible story, but we often forget that it took place in a dream! Here is the biblical account:
At sundown he arrived at a good place to set up camp and stopped there for the night. Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep.Genesis 28:11-17, NLT
As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!”
I find that I have got so familiar with reading bible stories like this that it just seems like just a another fiction novel, and I gloss over the enormity of the account. Maybe you do too!
We don’t know whether there was a ‘literal’ stairway as we understand it naturally, but it appears that there was some sort of a ‘window’ open into heaven. Consider these astounding facts:
- Jacob saw a stairway reaching into heaven.
- He saw angels ascending and descending.
- He saw God at the top of the ladder.
- God spoke to him directly!
How awesome is that? And all those things happened in a dream!
Jacob’s response to his dream
Jacob’s own response says it all: It was a reaction of awe and wonder. He certainly awoke with the impression that he had met God, and his life was changed. This was his response:
- He called the place ‘Bethel’ which means ‘the house of God’.
- He set up the stone he had slept on as a memorial stone at that place
- He was filled with a reverential ‘fear of the Lord’.
- He re-dedicated his life to God (albeit with a few conditions in true Jacob style).
- He promised to give God a tenth of everything from then onwards (if God continued to protect him).
I am persuaded, from his reaction, that Jacob really did encounter God and heaven in his dream – and receive the intended message. The fruit of his response bears witness to this.
- Luke 6:43-44, NASB For there is no good tree that bears bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree that bears good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.
The promises that God had given to his grandfather Abraham in Genesis 15 had now became personal promises to this young man through a heavenly encounter in a dream.
Somehow I find myself thinking, “That was then, but it’s different now!” I forget that Jacob was just a human being who walked in relationship with God. If it could happen to him, then it could happen to any of us who are reading this today.
More examples in the bible
In the bible there seems to be a blurred line between what people saw when they were asleep and what they saw while awake. It seems to all be describing the same type of thing.
Check out the following examples and compare them to Jacob’s dream:
- Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a throne (Isaiah 6).
- Daniel saw the ‘Ancient of Days’ in the middle of a dream (Daniel 7:9-10).
- John encountered a scene in heaven (Revelation 4).
It appears that the visions Jacob and Daniel saw in their dreams were similar to the things that Isaiah and John were shown while they were awake.
Because of testimonies like these that we find in the bible, I believe that night dreams can contain spiritual experiences which are equally as valid as those we may have while awake.
This is a real bonus, because not many of us can boast of heavenly encounters or supernatural visions as a regular occurrence. But if they can happen in our dreams, well, that makes them much more accessible to the average person!
If heavenly encounters can happen in our dreams, that makes them much more accessible to the average person!
Spiritual encounters in dreams today
Have you ever had an encounter with God like Jacob’s in a dream?
Although I have never (yet!) experienced having a vision while praying, or been ‘caught up’ to heaven, I have experienced some of these types of things in my dreams. And I believe that they were real – in the sense that I was able to understand and engage with the spiritual realm.
I have written in more detail about these experiences in the following articles – each with plenty of real dream examples:
Maybe this type of thing is already happening to you – and you just don’t know it! I was convinced they never happened to me until I started paying attention to my dreams and writing them down.
I was convinced these thing never happened to me until I started writing my dreams down.
Maybe you just need to start recording your dreams down too – so you can remember what happens in them!
Real dream example
In this article we are going to focus on an example of a dream where I woke up feeling like I ‘touched heaven’. I had this dream around ten years ago.
Dream of the presence of God
In my dream I was in a corridor in a castle. There was a room where I knew the presence of God sometimes came. My children were running in and out of the room, and I tried to stop them because I knew that if the presence of God came while they were in there, they would die. A caretaker was there. He didn’t mind going into the room.
Suddenly the presence of God came. It was like the roaring sound of a waterfall. I was outside the door and flung myself away in fear. It was so loud I was thrown down the corridor. I tried to slam the door to protect myself. There was a tiny gap left open, and a brilliant light came through the crack, hit my black hairband, and turned it an amber colour.
Explaining the dream symbolism
The castle setting: This told me that the dream was about one or more strongholds in my life – i.e. unhelpful ways of thinking that I needed to be set free from.
The caretaker: I believe this was the Holy Spirit, who was helping me with the process.
The children: I understood these to be the same as the stronghold: The faulty thinking that wouldn’t be able to stand in God’s presence, but I didn’t want to face.
The colour amber: I discovered that amber is the word used to describe the presence of the Lord in Ezekiel 1. This word is often translated as ‘white’, so I had no idea it really meant amber! This was a wonderful confirmation for me that I really had glimpsed the glory of God through that crack in the door.
The roaring sound: Ezekiel 43:2 describes the voice of God like this: “And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel… his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.” This description of the sound is also used by John in the book of Revelation. Again, this was confirmation for me that it was actually the voice of God which I was hearing!
The dream interpretation
God was letting me know that He was going to reveal some wrong thinking that needed to be dealt with in my life. The dream revealed that I wasn’t ready to face it at that time, but it would happen in the future, and I would be transformed to be more like Him as a result.
I was so overwhelmed that God would allow me to experience a snapshot of His presence like this, that I determined to cooperate with whatever process needed to happen in my life.
Over the past ten years I have walked this out with God, and I have indeed been changed. The vision of the amber hairband reminds me that I am being transformed into God’s likeness and motivates me to keep submitting to the journey.
The purpose of heavenly encounters
Although all of this excites me, I do not pursue spiritual experiences for the sake of it. But I DO pursue relationship with my Creator God – and that in itself is a spiritual experience.
I pursue relationship with God – and that in itself is a spiritual experience.
All of my adventures in dreams are based on the foundation of my relationship with Jesus Christ. He is always with me, helping me, guiding me and protecting me. This is so important when thinking about a subject like this.
I love the excitement of spiritual encounters, but only because I know the One whom I am encountering, and I trust Him implicitly. He is my Father God who loves me.
Seek first the kingdom of God
My advice would be to take a similar attitude: Seek out a relationship with God and his kingdom; make that your priority. As you get to know Him better, He will speak to you in many ways, dreams included. He will meet with you in marvellous encounters, just like He did with Jacob.
Seek out a relationship with God through Jesus Christ – and make that your priority. Then He will respond to you in many ways, including dreams.
Jesus claimed that He is the safe and legitimate way through which we can enter and experience heaven. If you don’t know Him yet, you can start right now by asking Him to reveal Himself to you. Who knows, maybe He will come and meet with you in a dream?
- Matthew 6:33, ESV But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
There are also some solid spiritual foundations which you can put into place to help keep your dream encounters healthy and positive. I wrote more about those in the following article:
5 foundational lifestyle habits that can help you receive and understand more dreams from God.
I often wake up from a dream feeling as though I have encountered a higher reality – touched heaven even – and I think I probably have!
- We have explored the biblical example of Jacob, and seen how he touched heaven in his dream of a ladder – and was changed by the experience.
- We have also considered a real dream example.
Jesus said that He is ‘the door’; in other words, He is the safe way through which we can touch heaven – in the context of a seeking a relationship with God and His kingdom.
Touching heaven, changing earth?
There is a song we used to sing in church called, ‘Touching heaven, changing earth’. If we are genuinely seeking to know God better, and desiring to walk with Him every day – then I think dreams can help us do just that!
I hope you have found this article helpful. If you want to know more, do subscribe to my emails below to receive regular dream interpretation tips.
The purpose of this blog is to provide solid biblical foundations for interpreting dreams, change mindsets in the church, and encourage others to make their own dream journey. I am primarily a writer and bible teacher – who loves dreams, and I hope you will be inspired to learn to interpret your own dreams.
It is not currently my aim to routinely engage in dream interpretations or provide training, except through writing blog posts. You can read my most up to date position on interpreting dreams here: Requests for dream interpretations.
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