“You‘ve been burning the midnight oil – how come?” Ed, my neighbor next door, demanded of me yesterday at the post office. “I saw your office light on when I came home late Monday night. Are you counting your money at midnight or watching movies?” Ed continued to question. He knows that I’m often writing late into the night for a deadline and he likes to keep track of what I’m doing day or night.
I told Ed I was working on a story about dream analysis and he became very skeptical and volunteered his opinion. “Dreams don’t mean nothing! They are just the result of eating something that upsets your stomach and results in restless sleep and dreaming,” Ed asserted.
I told Ed that I have been writing on the interpretation of nightmares, or, bad dream patterns. “Nightmares are the dreams that trouble us,” I informed Ed. “Haven’t you ever had a dream that was so upsetting you ended up yelling in your sleep, flaying off covers and thrashing your arms and legs around?” I asked Ed.
“Of course not,” Ed informed me. “Only preachers get those nightmares. It is payback for the suffering you inflict on innocent people in the pew.” Ed told me, “It is your taste of the hell you put people through with your sermons.”
Thankfully, Ruby came along to collect Ed from the post office, as they were going to do an errand. So, I asked Ruby if Ed ever has nightmares and she said, “Who knows if he ever has nightmares, but he looks like a nightmare first thing in the morning,”
In the Bible, Joseph and Daniel were both able to interpret dreams correctly. They agreed that the interpretation of dreams belongs to God. It was God who gave Joseph the meaning of the dreams of the chief cupbearer, the chief baker and the Pharaoh of Egypt. Joseph informed Pharaoh that in his dream, God was showing the ruler there would be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of great famine. A warning of the future also meant the possibility of saving food in the good years, so there would be enough food in the famine.
In the book of Matthew, when Mary was found to be with child, Joseph had in mind to divorce her. The Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary home as his wife, for the child conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit. “When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”
In the time of Jesus, dreams were considered to be a possible important message from God. The dream could be a warning of good or ill to come. It could be clear instructions telling the person what they needed to do. Today, dreams are considered a message from ourselves. Dream analysis or interpretation focuses on a dream as a message from our subconscious mind. The dream may be still treated as a mystery, but not with the view that it could be a message from God to be deciphered with God’s help. Perhaps we need to be like Daniel, who praised God for revealing the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to him and who described God this way: “He reveals deep and hidden things – He reveals mysteries.”