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The strife in Jacob's household was exacerbated when young Joseph had two dreams--one in which his brother's sheaves bowed down to his sheaf, and the other in which the sun, the moon and 11 stars bowed down to him. Joseph shared these dreams with his brothers and, perhaps understandably, his brothers hated him all the more. Even his father rebuked him, although he also kept in mind what Joseph had said (Gen. 37:5-11).

Perhaps Joseph was unwise to share these dreams with his jealous siblings. I believe he shared them not because he was prideful but because he had more zeal than wisdom. Whatever the reason, the outcome was that his outraged brothers sold him into slavery.

Joseph's story shows us the importance of praying carefully before we share our dreams. Much unnecessary turmoil can be avoided if we act wisely. Paul prayed that God would give the Christians at Ephesus wisdom in addition to revelation (Eph. 1:17). Revelation without wisdom can cause great heartache and pain; both must be utilized in proper balance to accomplish God's ultimate purposes.

After many years in slavery and prison, Joseph became prime minister of Egypt and helped the country survive seven years of famine. When his brothers came to Egypt for provisions, they bowed before him just as the dreams had foretold.

The dreams gave Joseph hope, guidance and encouragement during difficult times and kept him from forsaking the God of his fathers. God had a destiny for Joseph that would be fulfilled only after many years of holding fast to Him in a strange land and under trying circumstances.

Joseph's faithfulness to God was the key to his success. God in turn remained faithful to Joseph and, in His time, fulfilled His word and brought these dreams to pass, saving not only Joseph and his family but the future nation of Israel as well.

Dreams and visions may reveal your future ministry and destiny, but they rarely reveal the process God will use to bring about their fulfillment.

Assurance and Healing

We were building a new home, and anxiety about the cost of the tile roof was stretching my faith. Then one night I dreamed that we were putting a very strange roof on our house—a roof made from dried, preserved tarantula spiders!

In my dream, everyone was excited about our new roof, but I couldn't see what was so exciting about these strange tiles. Then I visited the homes of people I knew and found them raising baby tarantulas with great joy and excitement.

I awoke perplexed. I looked up tarantula in the encyclopedia. It said that in the Middle Ages people believed that anyone bitten by the tarantula spider became ill with tarantism—an imaginary disease that gave the victim a strong desire to dance! In reality, the bite of a tarantula is not harmful to humans.

The dance, the disease and the spider were named after a town in Italy called Taranto—which called to mind the Canadian city of Toronto, where there had been highly publicized outpourings of joy among God's people.

The Lord used my dream to tell me that He was going to cover our home with rejoicing—symbolized, strangely enough, by a tarantula. In the Middle Ages, people feared the spider's bite without cause in the same way I had feared not having the provision for the roof. God was assuring me that my worries were unfounded because He would provide joy and abundance.

The dream showed me that His joy would be poured out in every home in our congregation, producing a boldness to go forth in His name and destroy the strongholds of the enemy. I was overcome with joy and laughter and filled with faith. Who would guess that a tarantula could cause rejoicing?

Just as dreams can bring assurance, they can reveal unresolved matters in our hearts. When we dream about suppressed issues, we become aware of them so we can deal with them and be made whole. Often when we have built walls around areas of emotional pain to shield us from the hurt, God uses dreams to bypass those walls and go directly to the source of the pain.

On a conscious level, we may feel that we have dealt with those past wounds, but our subconscious minds recognize areas that still need healing. By bringing such matters to mind, God makes us aware and begins the healing process.

A man who had lost several family members in a short period of time came to me because he was troubled by dreams of his loved ones. Consciously, he felt that he had accepted their deaths, but still he dreamed about them.

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