This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more info.
We can glean a lot of lessons from the life of Joseph. But if we just stop and look at the story of Joseph’s dreams in the Bible. We can learn a lot about having character and a healthy dream life.
I have recently been on the quest to write on the topic of dreams. My hope is the help Christian believers to grow in their understanding of dreams and the prophetic. Below is a list of articles you can read on the topic:
- Does God Speak in Dreams?
- A Complete List of Bible Verses on Dreams
- Ways to Hearing God’s Voice
- The Biblical Meaning of Snakes in Dreams
- What Is the Difference Between Dreams and Visions?
The story of Joseph’s dreams can be found in Genesis 37. We will be going through that chapter to see the life lessons we can learn. I will be using all my scripture out if the NIV Bible.
Before we start, I want to share this quote which I think is great when it comes to us pursuing our learning about dreams.
“When writing about the significance of spiritual dreams, I want to be perfectly clear that a person is not to live their life by dreams, but by the Word of God. A true dream or vision will always be in agreement with the written Scriptures, and will complement the will of God in a person’s life.” -Perry Stone
Lessons from the Life of Joseph’s Dreams
For a quick Bible reference, these are the two dreams Joseph had in Genesis 37.
Dream 1 – The Grain Sheaves
“We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
Dream 2 – Celestial Bodies
“I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
1. Dreams Can Tell the Future and Be Prophetic
The dreams of Joseph are clearly prophetic in nature. We see that they are telling of what is to come within their family life and beyond. The grain sheaves are symbolic of the family needing grain and bowing to Joseph when he is in power in Egypt.
When God sends us a dream it can also express future events that are coming. They can come to us to warn us, prepare us, or encourage us. The key thing we must do is pray and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
2. Dreams Can Reveal Your Calling
If we look a little deeper into Joseph’s dreams you will see it reveals his calling to leadership. God sent these dreams to him at the young age of 17. God was grooming him internally for what was to come.
What Joseph didn’t realize was what it was going to take to be groomed to that level of leadership.
Sometimes when God sends us a dream He can be revealing our calling and will for our lives. I remember in my teen years having dreams about preaching and then when I was first asked to speak I knew God had opened that door!
It’s hard to express, but It felt like I was stepping into my calling.
3. Dream Interpretation Was Common
If a family member came up to us and said, “Hey listen to THIS…I had a dreams that 5 cellphone bowed down to MY iphone…”
We would be like “Dude, you need to lay off the late-night pizza and do a phone detox.”
That was NOT the case for Joseph’s family. Jacob was accustom to God talking to him in dreams (Genesis 28:10-17, Genesis 31:6–12). Jacob knowing this raised his family to acknowledge the importance of dreams and even to understand them.
Nowadays in the church, dream interpretation is rare and even labeled as “bad” or “not of God”. One of two reasons this happens.
1- They don’t believe God speaks in dreams
2- This happens because people take all or any random dream and just run with it. One of the fastest way to create a mess. So, they basically throw the baby out with the bathwater.
I believe we need to get back to the roots of our Christian faith and not be afraid of learning about dreams and trying to find understanding when we dream. We must approach it with God’s word, wisdom, prayer, and accountability.
4. We Should Never Boast
At the age of 17, you know that Joseph knew he was daddy’s favorite and that his older brothers were jealous. And from what we read he didn’t technically go to his family humbly asking for their help in understanding the dream.
If his family understood the dreams that easily he probably already knew the meaning was as well. He didn’t keep them to himself or privately meet with his father to tell him.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”GENESIS 37: 3-7
His boasting pushed his brother’s to the edge that led him down a very difficult and humbling road. Yes, it led him to the palace but there was a price to be paid for his pride. (Proverbs 16:18)
No matter our spiritual breakthrough, success, or revelation we should never boast for our own selfish gain.
5. Not Everyone Will Receive Your Calling
His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.GENESIS 37: 8
Joseph’s brothers and parents both got upset by what the dreams meant. How could he have a “bigger” calling than them? Joseph was the youngest of the family. In Hebrew culture he basically got the short end of the stick. But God doesn’t look at it that way.
It’s true, not everyone will receive or see what you are called to do and be. You can even tell them what you feel God is leading you to do. It doesn’t mean they will believe it.
In my early 20’s my associate youth pastor moved back to our church and got a position in the department I was working in. I decide to visit his office and welcome him to the team.
As I welcomed him to the team, he responded with…“I’m surprised you have made it this far.” <— TRUE STORY!
I was shocked for a few seconds and responded, “Apparently, you didn’t know who I am.”
Sometimes people can’t see who you are. That’s just part of our walk with God. Are we going to believe what God has said about us and our call or what man thinks.
6. Your Timing Is NOT God’s Timing
I’m pretty sure Joseph had no clue how long and hard of a road he would have after having his dreams. He probably thought it would take place soon after.
The whole story of his life is such a great lesson that our timing is not always God’s timing. God has a process He wants to take us through to get us where he wants us.
It’s important to be patient and keep the faith as we walk through the process. For Joseph, he had to face slavery and prison. Yet, he was able to see the bigger picture when the famine hit and forgive him, brothers.
God knows what He is doing…trust His timing.
7. We Only See in Part
Just because we have a dream, or a vision or prophetic word doesn’t mean we will see the whole picture. Like I mentioned above, Joseph was clueless what the process was going to be.
His dreams only revealed a part of what God was going to do.
You are not going to know everything that’s going to happen in your life. But what you do know is that God will be with you every single step of the way. It’s about trusting in Him.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,1 Corinthians 13:8-9
Recapping The 7 Life Lessons from Joseph’s Dreams
Here is a quick recap of what we learned in this article.
- Dreams Can Tell the Future and Be Prophetic
- Dreams Can Reveal Your Calling
- Dream Interpretation Was Common
- We Should Never Boast
- Not Everyone Will Receive Your Calling
- Your Timing Is NOT God’s Timing
- We Only See in Part
I hope this has encouraged you in your growth in God and to start learning more about dream in the Bible.
Looking for more on dreams or people in the Bible? Check out these two posts below!
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…