Daniel, along with Joseph, was one of the great dream interpreters of the bible. I’m sure you’ve heard of him – but did you know that he wrote his dreams down?
In this article we will explore some of the dream incidents recorded in his book, and then be inspired with 7 good reasons to record our own dreams!
- Part 1: The biblical example of Daniel
- Part 2: Reasons to record our dreams
- Real dream example
- Conclusion and Infographic
Part 1: The example of Daniel
Daniel was an Israelite who loved and honoured God. We read in Daniel 1 that Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, had besieged Jerusalem and taken many young people captive. Daniel was one of them. He was taken to Babylon, and trained for the king’s personal service (Daniel 1:5).
There are some very well known dreams in his book, which we can summarise as follows:
Chapter 2: The King’s forgotten dream
We first find Daniel interpreting dreams in chapter 2, where he interprets King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a large statue with a head of gold.
- Daniel 2:3 The king said…, “I had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.”
The interesting thing about this occasion is that the king seems to have forgotten his dream! He knew that it was important, yet for some reason he couldn’t explain the dream to his advisers. Unsurprisingly, none of his advisers nor the master astrologers were able to tell him what he had dreamt!
Fortunately for the king, Daniel was able to pray and receive the meaning. The king’s dream was revealed to Daniel in a ‘night vision’. So, fittingly, it seems that Daniel actually dreamt about the king’s dream!
- Daniel 2:19 Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision.
Thankfully Daniel didn’t forget the dream when he dreamt it! His life was on the line, so that was a pretty good incentive to make sure he didn’t forget – I suspect he wrote the dream down straight away!
This dream was pretty important to the ancient world at the time, because it foretold future kingdoms that would rise and fall on the earth – right up to the coming of Jesus Christ. It was definitely a dream worth remembering – and recording.
Chapter 4: Nebuchadnezzar remembers a dream
This leads on to the king’s second dream. His dream of a statue seems to have gone to his head, because he then went on to actually build a gigantic gold statue for everybody to worship! This idolatrous and prideful attitude was the context into which his second dream spoke.
In Daniel 4 we read that the king dreamt about a great tree which was cut down to a stump. The dream interpretation from Daniel revealed that this tree represented King Nebuchadnezzar, and indicated that the king would undergo a seven year period of madness and humbling, before being restored to his right mind. And, again, Daniel was the only one who understood the meaning.
Notice, however, that this time the king remembered the dream, and was able to recount it to his advisors! (Daniel 4:7). Maybe the king learnt from the first time and made sure he recorded his dream this time!
Chapter 7: Daniel’s own dreams
These two episodes are impressive: not least because the interpretations proved to be accurate. But what of the man, Daniel, himself? What about his own dreams?
The first half of Daniel is all about him interpreting the dreams and visions of various kings. But from chapter 7 onwards we find a record of Daniel’s own dreams and visions.
Chapter 7 is of particular interest because it specifically mentions dreams, and uses the phrases ‘dreams’ and ‘night visions’ throughout. This is helpful, as it indicates that when the bible talks about night visions, we can understand them to refer to night dreams, and visions that are seen in dreams.
But the remainder of the visions and angelic visitations in chapters 8-12 are also remarkable. These visions gave extraordinary prophetic detail about the years leading up to the birth of Christ, and build on Nebuchadnezzar’s statue dream.
Part 2: Reasons to record our dreams
So now we will consider some great reasons for us to record our own dreams!
Reason 1: To follow Daniel’s biblical example
We can see in Daniel 7 that Daniel wrote his dream down! Could this be one of the secrets as to how Daniel became so successful with dreams?
- Daniel 7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote the dream down and told the sum of the matter.
If you need a biblical precedent for recording dreams, then this is it! In fact, when you think about it, all the dreams in the bible must have been recorded at some point, or they wouldn’t be in the bible! But this is a good example, as it seems that Daniel wrote his dream down at the time of dreaming. Which is very important.
Reason 2: So we don’t forget our dreams
Even with such a troubling dream, King Nebuchadnezzar couldn’t remember his first dream. But before we are tempted to ridicule the king for his forgetfulness, let’s acknowledge that this is not particularly surprising – nor unusual!
I’m sure that, at times, you have also had some vivid dreams which you have be unable to remember later. I certainly have. I have been intensely frustrated with myself at times, knowing that I have missed something important.
We know that dreams disappear from our memory very rapidly. If we do nothing to actively help ourselves remember them, even after a few minutes they start to slip away, and after 5 minutes or so they are gone. I know that I forget my dreams very quickly!
So let’s not be like King Nebuchadnezzar. Let’s be like Daniel, and do something to help ourselves remember our dreams!
Reason 3: So we can remember specific details
Daniel’s dream in chapter 7 was long and complicated. It started with all kinds of strange beasts with different numbers of horns, then it progressed to an encounter with the throne of God, and further revelations and explanations.
That’s a lot of information!!
I, for one, am glad that Daniel wrote the dream down, so we can read all the details that were contained in it.
In the same way, I do not want to forget any of the details of the dreams that God gives me! I know that God sometimes gives me specific instructions in dreams. And He also gives me numbers and dates that indicate timings of things that are coming in my life. I also know that I forget details like that very quickly. I don’t want to miss anything!
Reason 4: So we can seek understanding
Daniel had another vision in chapter 8. It does not specifically say it was in a dream, but it is very similar in nature to the dream he had in chapter 7. We read that after Daniel had seen this vision, he sought to understand it.
- Daniel 8:15 when I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it.
Daniel was rewarded with an explanation and understanding from the angel Gabriel. I can’t honestly say that I have had anything like that happen to me (yet!) – but I have spent many hours praying through my dreams with God, and I have often been given understanding in those times.
So if we record our dreams, we can go back to them, pray through them, and seek more understanding.
Reason 5: For the benefit of others
It goes without saying that the dreams and visions Daniel had were vital to the people of Israel at that time – because they foretold the return of the Jews from exile, and world events that would effect them in the subsequent centuries.
If we record our dreams and visions, then we can use them to encourage people around us. We may have dreams about our family, our church, our workplace, or our locality. It is good for these things to be recorded, so everyone can be blessed and encouraged by them.
Reason 6: So we can review them with hindsight
It is so encouraging for us now to look back and see the prophecies about the coming of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. It would have also been encouraging for the early Christians, as confirmation that they were following the truth!
If we also record and date our own dreams, we can go back and review them with hindsight. We can see whether they were fulfilled, and we can find confirmations for decisions we are currently making.
A lesson from archeology
One of the reasons Daniel is such a powerful book, is that the prophecies recorded in it were extremely accurate, down to specific details of rulers. This was so much so, that sceptics in modern times did not believe that it could have been written before the events.
Fortunately for us, archeologists discovered a clay cylinder – which is now displayed in the British museum. This cylinder confirms that the book was written at the time of Daniel – so his dreams and visions are even more stunning to read!
If you are interested, you can read about it in the following article:
Reason 7: To honour and value what God gives us
My final thought, is this: If God is speaking to us through dreams, then surely we would want to honour that, wouldn’t we?
l love how Daniel gives honour to God in worship, after receiving the substance and meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream. This is a great example for us:
To You, God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise,Daniel 2:23
For You have given me wisdom and power;
Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s matter.”
Recording our dreams is a way of showing God that we value what He gives us.
Real dream example
In April 2018 I had given up my paid job and was spending time seeking God about what to do next. I had lots of ideas. Then one day, I suddenly realised what God was actually calling me to do. He wanted me to devote my old work hours to Him: to just being with Him, and waiting in His presence.
As I was processing this thought, I suddenly remembered about a dream I once had. I looked through my dream journal – and I found it. This is the dream:
The dream: Working for Uncle Mike
Date: 14th April 2016
I dreamed I was at work. My uncle came and told me that I needed to prepare for leaving work, because in two days time I could come and work for him! In this new job I would be sitting and watching something.
- My uncle was also my godfather. So to me, he represented God the Father.
- Two days often symbolises two years in my dreams.
- Watching carries the connotation of prayer (e.g. a prayer watch).
The interpretation: In two years time I would be doing something new for God, involving some kind of prayer watch.
- This date of this dream was exactly two years before the day I realised what God was calling me to do – and started doing it. I could not have planned that!
- The fact that I had recorded the dream meant that I could go back and check the date.
- What a wonderful confirmation it was that I had done the right thing by leaving my job, and that I had heard right about waiting on God in prayer.
- I did do exactly what the dream suggested – and spent the next couple of years mostly spending my time with God. This blog has been birthed out of that time.
We have considered the example of Daniel, and found 7 great reasons to record our night dreams. Check out the summary in the infographic below!
I encourage you to take the next step and DO something to record your dreams! Maybe you could take a pen and paper and place it beside your bed right now!