Once Reserved for Prophets, Now All People Can Have Visions from God
A friend asked me about hearing from God and of visions from God. I often think about hearing from the Holy Spirit, but I infrequently consider visions, even though visions are one way that God communicates with us.
Visions in the Bible
Mentions of visions occur thirty-six times in the Bible, mostly in the Old Testament. The first time is when God tells his people that he will reveal himself to his prophets through visions, that he will speak to them in dreams (Numbers 12:6).
The book of Ezekiel records the most visions, followed by Daniel. And the bulk of Revelation is one epic vision.
I suspect the most well-known verse about visions is when God says he will pour out his Spirit on all people. Then there will be prophecies, dreams, and “young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28). Notice that Joel says all people will receive God’s Spirit.
The fulfillment of this happens at the first Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
Hearing from God in the Bible
Interestingly, the phrase “the Lord said” and variations thereof occur over 400 times in the Bible, ten times more often than visions. This suggests it’s more likely we’ll hear words from God than we’ll see visions.
Receiving Visions from God
I hear from God often, usually whenever I ask and sometimes when I don’t. My requests to hear him often start out like young Samuel, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). Then God puts his words into my mind.
It’s up to me to discern which of those words came from God and which emerged from my own imagination. With practice, it becomes easier to separate the two.
Though I have had visions from God, they aren’t often. As far as I recall, I’ve never asked for a vision. They just show up. Usually they occur when I’m asleep and sometimes as I enter or leave sleep: a semi-conscious state, a trance.
For me a vision from God seems much like a dream. It’s up to me to discern which came from God and which came from myself. Again, with practice it becomes easier to know the difference.To hear from God: fast, pray, and listen. Click To Tweet
Hearing from God and especially seeing visions from God happen more frequently when I fast and even more so as I pray and listen to God during a fast. That’s when he speaks to me, mostly through words and occasionally through visions.
Of course, I don’t need to fast to hear from God, I merely need to listen.
And where did my thoughts for this post come from? They came during a fast. I was praying and listening to God. I asked him if he had anything to tell me about visions that I could share with my friend. Then I heard from the Holy Spirit. This post is the result.
Thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.