Do You Remember What Message God Sent to these People Through Dreams in the Bible?

Torrance Grey

Image: Bible Collection

About This Quiz

The Bible is full of phenomena that would strike modern people, even devout believers, as paranormal. These incidents include angelic visitations, demonic possessions and incidents such as King Saul consulting the Witch of Endor, who brings up the ghost of the prophet Samuel to counsel the king. And, of course, the Bible has a number of prophetic dreams. (We're using "prophetic" in the broad sense, meaning a message from God, not necessarily a vision of the future). While modern Christians usually look for God's guidance in subtle ways, like the wise words of a pastor or friend, God evidently was more direct in Biblical times, speaking to his followers via dreams. 

Many of these dreams occur in the book of Genesis, but they are also found in the books of Judges and Daniel. Then, in the gospels, there's a flurry of dreams sent to the adults around the young Jesus. The purpose of these dreams was to tell these people how best to protect the infant savior. But some dreams in the Bible were fairly obscure in their message. That's where interpreters come in: God gave certain individuals a gift in this area, like the patriarch Joseph, whose skill at understanding dreams was part of his unlikely success in Egypt, a land he arrived in as a slave. 

If you're a Bible whiz, you'll enjoy pitting yourself against our quiz about the dreamers, dreams and divine messages in the Bible! 

This dreamer saw a ladder, with angels ascending and descending.

"Jacob's ladder" is a famous Bible story. It is found in Genesis 28.

What message did God send Jacob in his famous dream?

This is a key moment in Genesis. God previously promised to make Abraham the father of a multitude, but here he makes a promise to give Abraham's grandson and his descendants the land of Canaan. (First, there's going to be a significant detour to Egypt, though).

In Genesis 20, God sent King Abimelech a powerful warning dream. It was about ________.

"You are about to die because of the woman you have taken; for she is a married woman." This wasn't Abimelech's fault: Abraham had lied about who Sarah really was, because he feared that Abimelech would kill him to get her. Perhaps he misjudged Abimelech, who promptly returned Sarah to Abraham after the warning dream.

God also counsels Abimelech that ...

Genesis notes that the king had not yet "gone in" to Sarah; God says that he prevented Abimelech from doing so. For this reason, and because both Abraham and Sarah lied, Abimelech is still innocent in God's eyes.

While Jacob is working for his father-in-law Laban, God sends him a dream featuring what kind of animals?

The symbolism has to do with an agreement that Jacob and Laban made, in which all the striped and speckled goats born in Laban's herd would be kept by Jacob. Jacob won that bet by trickery, which led to bad relations between him and his father-in-law.

What message did God give Jacob in the dream of "striped and speckled" animals?

Actually, in the dream God says that Laban has been cheating Jacob and changing his wages. However, it's clear that Jacob isn't innocent either, as he uses a kind of sorcery to make the goats breed more striped and speckled kids than plain (the former went to Jacob; the latter to Laban). Whatever the truth of the matter, God advises Jacob to leave Laban's lands and go home.

What message does God send to Laban shortly after Jacob leaves?

Laban and his men pursue Jacob, mostly because Jacob took his wives, Laban's daughters, with him. But God warns Laban to "not say a word to Jacob, either good nor bad." Despite this, Laban and Jacob do have words when they meet, ending in an uneasy covenant with a boundary marker between their lands.

Joseph, son of Jacob, has two dreams that predict superiority over his brothers. What does the first one involve?

Jacob dreams that as he as his brothers are binding sheaves in the field, when "my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves bowed down to it." His brothers respond, "Are you indeed to reign over us?"

What does Jacob's second dream of mastery involve?

Joseph dreams that the sun, moon and eleven stars bow down to him. His family, understandably, interprets this as Jacob, Rachel, and the other eleven brothers bowing down to Jacob. The brothers are again resentful, but "his father kept the matter in his mind." (Genesis 37:11).

Where would Joseph achieve the high status that his dreams foretold?

It wasn't until after Joseph became a slave in Egypt that he rose to be an important man, a counselor to the Pharaoh himself. Christians use this story to illustrate the fact that God uses setbacks and bad luck as part of His master plan.

What does Pharaoh's cupbearer dream about, while in jail for angering his master?

Naturally, the cupbearer dreams of vines, and of making wine from the grapes on them. He presses the grapes into Pharaoh's cup, and gives it to his master, as he used to do before the Pharaoh was angry with him. Joseph tells him the dream is a good portent.

What did Joseph ask the cupbearer for, in exchange for interpreting his dream?

Unfortunately, when the cupbearer's fortunes changed, he forgot Joseph's request. It wasn't until there were more bad dreams in need of interpretation the he remembered Joseph, apologizing for his lapse.

What features in the dream had by the Pharaoh's baker?

The baker dreams he is carrying three baskets on his head, full of cakes. But birds are eating from the baskets, not exactly an ideal situation.

What is the outcome of the cupbearer's and the baker's prophetic dreams?

We never learn what these men did to offend the Pharaoh. However, Joseph prophesies that the cupbearer will be restored to his job, and the baker hanged and his flesh eaten by birds. This is, in fact, what happens.

Two dreams foreshadow Egypt's "seven fat years and seven lean years." What does the first one feature?

Seven "fat" cows (meaning healthy and sleek) are grazing by the Nile. Seven thin cows devour them.

What does the second "fat years, lean years" dream involve?

The seven healthy ears of grain are consumed by the seven thin, unhealthy ones. Like the dream of the fat and thin cows, it foreshadows a famine.

Who had the "fat years, lean years" dreams and asked Joseph to interpret them?

The very leader of Egypt has the dreams of the cows and of the ears of grain. Joseph explains to him that it means that there will be seven years of good harvests, followed by seven years of famine; Pharaoh should have food stockpiled accordingly.

What dream symbol predicts Israelite victory over Midian in Judges?

According to an unnamed man's dream, a barley loaf rolls into the Midian camp, hitting and completely overturning a tent. This is what we've known all along: Carbs are dangerous!

To whom did the Lord appear in a dream, offering anything the dreamer wished?

This happens in 1 Kings chapter 2. God appears to Solomon, the new king after his father David, and says, "Ask what I should give you."

What does King Solomon ask God for?

God was pleased with Solomon's answer, the Bible says. Thereafter, Solomon was known for his wisdom.

What did King Nebuchadnezzar see being destroyed in his dream?

King Nebuchadnezzar saw a fantastic statue made up of different materials (mixed media, artists would say today) being destroyed by a stone. The weakest part of the statue was its feet, made of iron mixed with clay (which do not mix well). From this Bible story we get the expression "feet of clay."

In what book of the Bible does Nebuchadnezzar have this dream?

Like Pharaoh in the book of Exodus, King Nebuchadnezzar is the main antagonist of the book of Daniel. It is Daniel, a Jew from Israel, who explains to the foreign king that he the statue represents many heathen kingdoms, which are destroyed by the power of God. (This doesn't stop Nebuchadnezzar from creating a great golden statue which he demands the people worship).

The symbol in Nebuchadnezzar's second dream was a tree. What did it represent?

Daniel explains to Nebuchadnezzar that he is the tree, vital and fertile. But the tree but cut down to its roots represents the king's seven years of insanity, which are imminent, unless he repents of his pride.

Which of these beasts does Daniel see in a dream?

Daniel sees all of these, plus an unknown beast with 10 horns. All of them represent kingdoms that are to come, and are judged by God.

Daniel's dream of the four beasts and their judgment is also thought to foreshadow ______.

Daniel 7:13-14 refers to "one like a human being, coming with the clouds of heaven. ... To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him." Many people see this as a reference to Jesus.

At what part of his reign did Nebuchadnezzar have the dream of the finger writing on the wall?

Many visions in the Bible are just that: visions or apparitions. In the story in Daniel, God literally writes His judgment on a wall. Afterward, the writing is still there for the king's wise men to try to interpret -- which wouldn't be the case if the king only dreamed the writing hand and its message.

In the gospels, who is the first person to receive a dream about Jesus's birth?

Joseph planned to divorce Mary because she was pregnant, and not by him. (She was his fiancee, not his wife yet, but the commitment was legally binding). In a dream, Joseph is told not to divorce Mary, because she is carrying the Messiah.

If not through a dream, how did Mary learn she was pregnant with Jesus?

Visitations by angels are a common way that people to receive divine news in the Bible. The shepherds will have such a visitation too, the night of Jesus's birth.

What are the magi (wise men) told in a dream?

The wise men, who came from "the East" (exact country not specified), were questioned by Herod upon their arrival in Jerusalem, and, likewise, he wanted them to report back to him when they found the child. But the wise men were told in a dream to take a different route home, thus not to confer again with Herod.

In a second dream, Joseph is told what?

Herod is planning to kill the male children of Judea. Joseph is warned that he cannot return there, but must travel in a different direction with his new wife and baby.

Joseph has a dream telling him to go back to Israel after what happens?

The Romans had already taken control of Israel and Judea during Christ's time. But kings like Herod were local figurehead rulers. It was he who feared Jesus, and his death that paved the way for Joseph, Mary and Jesus's return.

However, another dream warns Joseph not to settle in Judea. Where does he go instead?

The book of Matthew says that Joseph was "warned in a dream" to go there, but perhaps "counseled" would be the better term. As a result, Jesus was raised in Nazareth, as was prophesied. This was also near the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus would meet several of his closest disciples.

Who has a disturbing dream just before Jesus's crucifixion?

Matthew 27:19 tells us that Pilate's wife sent him word not to hand Jesus over for crucifixion. "While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, 'Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.' "

In Genesis, who has a dream during a "deep and terrifying darkness (that) descended upon him"?

After this, Abraham hears the Lord's voice (whether he sees God as well is not made clear). God tells Abraham that his descendants will be slaves in a foreign land for 400 years, but God will bring them back to Israel.

Though it's not a dream, the vision of the Valley of Dry Bones is a famous one in the Bible. Which book is it in?

Ezekiel has a vision in which he sees a valley full of desiccated bones. But they are miraculously covered with living tissue, and become living humans again, just like God will restore the people of Israel. Not a dream, but we couldn't leave this famous story out!

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