Today: [Job Thirty-Three] Is God Speaking to You in Your Dreams? In this chapter young Elihu becomes the 5 speaker in the book of Job. He points out that while Job and his friends have had much to say that God has also been speaking. Early in the book of Job our protagonist complains about poor sleep and troubling dreams. Elihu seizes upon this and tells Job that God has been speaking to him about his life’s problems all along but Job hasn’t been listening? What about you? Is God speaking to you in your dreams? What are the consequences of failing to realize this?
[Job 33:1-33 KJV] 1 Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words. 2 Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth. 3 My words [shall be of] the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly. 4 The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. 5 If thou canst answer me, set [thy words] in order before me, stand up. 6 Behold, I [am] according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay. 7 Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee. 8 Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of [thy] words, [saying], 9 I am clean without transgression, I [am] innocent; neither [is there] iniquity in me. 10 Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy, 11 He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths. 12 Behold, [in] this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man.
In the previous chapter Elihu speaks up and gives justification for why he though a young man should be heard. He speaks in this chapter to Job and not his three friends sitting by though they are present. He makes a point of characterizing his remarks almost as spontaneous inspiration and not something he personally deliberated. He describes what he is about to say as “my tongue speaking in my mouth…” He has condemned Job’s three friends for criticizing Job but not giving a clear answer to Job’s dilemma. He now says that his words to Job will be with clarity and give answers to Job he is seeking.
Elihu’s reference to the breath of the Almighty as constituting his life are similar to Job 27:3 where Job speaks of the breath of life in his body being a direct infusion of the spirit of God. Is this just a poetic reference or is there something more descriptive in these references in Job? In evangelical traditions it is believed that those who are not born again are the offspring of the devil. The apostle however made the following statement to the pagans assembled on Mars Hill in Athens:
[Act 17:28 KJV] 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
This doesn’t mean that the new birth isn’t necessary to be brought into the kingdom of God – but it does give us a different perspective on introducing God to unbelievers and understanding their posture in God’s economy. In the 4 references in the New Testament where Jesus and John the Baptist spoke of those who were children of the devil he was referring to the Pharisees and Sadducees not to pagan hedonists as that appellative is generally applied today.
13 Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters. 14 For God speaketh once, yea twice, [yet man] perceiveth it not. 15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; 16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, 17 That he may withdraw man [from his] purpose, and hide pride from man. 18 He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. 19 He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong [pain]: 20 So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. 21 His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones [that] were not seen stick out. 22 Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers.
Elijhu corrects Job in suggesting (v. 9) that he (Job) is clean and without transgression. He then seems to change the subject and begins talking about how God speaks to us in dreams. What is Elihu’s reasoning? In Job 7:3-4 Job had remarked how restless he was in the night. Elihu in listening to Job and his 3 friends seizes upon this early remark of Job as a point of reference to what God has to say in the midst of Job’s difficulties. Job and his friends all have something to say but Elihu isn’t interested in their words – he wants to hear from God. He is looking into this situation and asking God what are you injecting into this fiasco and what are you saying to Job. He is also convinced not only that God has something to say but that He has been speaking to Job for sometime but Job isn’t listening.
V. 14 tells us that God speaks once or twice to us many times in ways we don’t recognize. This is interesting because the implication is that if we don’t “get it” then God won’t bring it up again. This is a fearful thing – to hear from God things we desperately need to know but God leaves off speaking because our attention is elsewhere. Why does God speak not only once but twice? Because the precedent set in the word (Matt. 18:16; 1 Cor. 13:1) that in the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established. When God speaks to you twice or more times in a dream or in some other way it means that 1.) it is an established thing; and 2.) it will shortly come to pass (Gen. 41:32).
V. 15 tells us that in what we call R.E.M. sleep is when God created us to dream and when God will speak to us in a dream. There may be other dream states that don’t arise from “deep slumberings” that do not constitute a message from God but in that place of deep sleep God will frequently if not exclusively speak to us.
In v. 16 Elihu says that in this places of deep sleep God will seal instructions in our hearts. That means that even if we don’t remember our dreams it doesn’t mean they are of no value to us. Dreams communicate with our human spirit even if we do not recall them upon waking. The highest form of dream interpretation is to interpret a dream the dreamer cannot remember.
In v. 17-18 we see that dream are given to provoke us to change direction in our life or to change our thinking about deeply held beliefs or opinions. Dream expose areas of pride, aspects of our character that we like Job may be justifying ourselves against the protests of our spirit inside us and our own conscience. Job though he insists he is the epitome of righteousness is nonetheless struggling with his self-image as evidenced by his phobias as referenced in Job 3:35.
The dreams that God gives are to “keep [our] soul from the pit and [our] life from perishing by the sword”. What does this mean? Prov. 23:27 tells us that a “whore is a deep ditch”. This is strong language but what it means is that idolatry in our hearts and giving in to the seduction of our soul throws us into what many people describe as “a stuck place”. If you find that describes how you feel about your life begin to listen to your dreams and ask God to reveal to you idols in your heart, or strongly held beliefs as Job’s that are hindering you from moving in God’s blessing. Dreams also keep our life according to the Elihu from “perishing by the sword”. What is the sword? It is the word of God. The word of God is intended to be a source of blessing for your life. However if there is a posture of life in us that is contrary to the scriptures – then the word becomes a basis of struggle and not liberty. In dreams God will expose areas of our life where repentance is needed to bring us back into alignment with His heart.
In v. 19-22 we see what often happens when we fail to understand that God is speaking to us particularly in dreams. When a dream is ignored it can lead to physical problems and insomnia as Job has already complained about. Ignoring God’s voice is not the only reason for physical problems or sleeplessness but it is one that we should not ignore but ask the Father to reveal if you are in fact ignoring important things God is saying and the result is being exposed to sleeplessness and even physical problems. That doesn’t mean that God is putting these on you but that disobedience and willfulness opens us and makes us vulnerable to the rigors of the fallen environment of this world and the prince of this world.
23 If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: 24 Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. 25 His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth: 26 He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness. 27 He looketh upon men, and [if any] say, I have sinned, and perverted [that which was] right, and it profited me not; 28 He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. 29 Lo, all these [things] worketh God oftentimes with man, 30 To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living. 31 Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak. 32 If thou hast any thing to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee. 33 If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.
In v. 23 Elihu speaks of the need of having a dream interpreted. The value of a dream is found in it’s interpretation. Without a proper interpretation it’s message cannot be understood. Now notice that a dream must be interpreted. What that indicates is why you think the dream may mean is almost always not a full understanding and in fact may be completely incorrect particularly if your interpretation is focused on others and not on the condition of your own heart.
Verse 24 tells us that a dream properly interpreted delivers us, brings God’s grace into our situation and ransoms our lives from the assault of the enemy that we may be going through at the time. V. 25 goes on to say that dreams properly interpreted can bring healing to chronic health problems and may cause our youth to be renewed. V. 26 emphasizes that a properly interpreted dream will put us in a position of getting our prayers answered after long waiting and frustration in this area.
In all of this Elihu is dismissing everything that Job’s friends have said because their words proceed out of their own flawed understandings and prejudices. He dismisses Job’s justifications as mere pride. He focuses instead on what he maintains God has been speaking about long before Job’s trial began. He insists that it doesn’t matter what man thinks but rather what God has to say who has up to this point in Job not be acknowledged by Job and his friends other than to be falsely accused of causing Job’s difficulty. When you are in difficulty and you are tempted to think God is contradicting His promise in your life or your so-called friends are accusing you of wrong doing – listen to your dreams. Think back on your dreams. Seek someone out to help you interpret your dreams – it may just lead to breakthrough for you of the nature of which Job experiences at the end of this book of Job.
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