A little noticed aspect of the Christmas story is that it is full of revelations imparted by God through dreams. God uses this method to communicate important instructions to people that will ultimately change the course of events. It is in a dream that an angel tells Joseph to marry Mary, who he would otherwise have divorced. It is in a dream that the wise men are warned not to return to Herod and let him know the location of the newborn king of the Jews. Again, it is in three separate dreams that Joseph is given specific instructions after the birth of Christ about where to move his family in order to keep them safe from the massacre of children instigated by Herod.
Dreams were a means of communication that would have been familiar in the culture at the time, and indeed many important dreams are recorded throughout the Old and the New Testament. They were taken seriously in the same way that the wise men saw the stars as a means of communication about important events, and the way in which Herod called on his chief priests and scribes concerning the prophecies that had been given of where the Christ was to be born.
In our age of modern communication and technology we can perhaps become deadened to the way that God is trying to communicate with us, and prayer can become a one-way form of communication where we lay out our requests to God without really listening for or even expecting a response. Yet Scripture indicates that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we should still expect God to reveal things to us through some of the same means of communication He has always used. In Joel 2:28 it says ‘And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.’ The same God who spoke the earth into creation can speak to us through all manner of things, regardless of whether we are awake or asleep. As you spend time celebrating Christmas this week, and as this year draws to a close, consider putting aside some time for quiet reflection. Ask God what he wants to speak to you about and be ready to receive from him through anything that He chooses to use.
Lord, thank you for the many varied ways in which you communicated with people throughout the Bible and still do today. We ask that you would help us to develop listening hearts, open to what you want to say to us and to those around us. Through your Hoy Spirit would you transform us into a people who are sensitive to the ways in which you are speaking and reveal to us your will. Amen.