Theme: Faith (Part 12 – How faith relates to dreams)
(Key verses: Gen 20:1-18)
God created the generation of the fleshly Adam to be given an evil experience first and afterward He will conform all in that Adam into the spiritual image of His Son, Jesus Christ, through a lengthy spiritual judgment process (Gen 2:7; Gen 3:19; Jer 18:4; Rom 8:20):
Ecc 1:13 CLV I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it.
1Co 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
1Co 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
One of the biggest mistakes we make in our journey in this life is to underestimate the deceptive powers of evil which God created, even as these evil powers works in our own flesh (Isa 45:7; Pro 16:4; Rom 7:14-23). The life of Abraham is a beautiful Old Testament type of the constant battles inside us even after we have a few big battles behind us in our spiritual development. The spirit of lasciviousness is always very active after a victorious battle in one area of our lives or when our guard is down when we “bless [our]self in [our] heart” (Num 32; 2Sa 11-12; Luk 18:10-14):
Deu 29:18 Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;
Dwu 29:19 And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst.
We must take heed to ourselves when we read this important warning which was given to the physical nation of Israel to not become overly confident after they have seen the provision and miracles of God in Egypt and in the wilderness (1Ti 4:16; 1Co 10:11; Rom 15:4). After all the trials of Abraham’s faith and the victories he achieved, he moved toward the south again, which is also significant to take note of if we want to understand our own deceptive flesh and its convincing arguments:
Gen 20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.
Gerar was a Philistine city with very fertile farmlands in its surrounding valleys, which is where Abraham, and later also Isaac, lived during their sojourning (Gen 21:32; Gen 26:12; 2Ch 14:13-15). Knowing that judgment, even through various trials, symbolically comes from the north, moving toward the south symbolically indicates a spiritual slack in our approach to learn about the righteousness of God and His doctrine (Jer 1:13-16; Jer 6:1; Isa 14:31; Isa 26:9). This slackness in the growth of faith is also what we see in the life of Abraham when he moved southward to the land of the Philistines. Here in Gerar Abraham denied his wife, Sarah, for the second time after he previously did this in Egypt several years before when he also moved southward (Gen 12:9-20):
Gen 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
Abimelech means “father of the king” and this name is also linked to a title of rulership in Philistine cities throughout the scriptures (Psa 34; 1Sa 21:10-15; Psa 56:1). It was also before Abimelech that Isaac, Abraham’s son, later denied his wife, Rebecca, when he moved south to Gerar while there was famine in Canaan (Gen 26:1-11). Spiritually we all deny our wives when we leave the truth contained in the doctrine of Christ and through our lusts and pride become involved with the deceitful doctrines of the spirit of this world in us (1Jn 2:16). Through these three occasions of denying one’s wife via Abraham and Isaac, we learn that this spiritual process of denying Christ and His truth will always be a huge temptation until the end. During this period of denial while Abraham lived in Gerar, God is using a very important method to bring sanity back to Abraham which appears here for the first time in scriptures:
Gen 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.
This is the first time dreams appear in the scriptures as a way which God also ordained to communicate with mankind. We will briefly touch on this theme of dreams as it relates to the foundational theme of faith in this discussion as the topic of dreams will come up as a separate theme in Genesis in a future discussion, God willing. The generation of Adam always has a big fascination with dreams (“by night”) as it also opens up so many avenues through which God sends His spirits to us as He works all things after the counsel of His will (Heb 12:9; Eph 1:11). This is how Elihu also brings this important foundational truth about dreams to the attention of Job and his three comforters – and all of us:
Job 33:15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
Job 33:16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
Job 33:17 That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
Dreams are indeed used by God to bring various messages to people, including specific instructions as we see here in the case of this king of Gerar (Mat 2:12-13). God is the cause of everything, and He also brings frightening messages and strong delusion to deceive mankind through dreams (Job 7:14; Ecc 5:7; Isa 21:4; Dan 2:1; Mat 27:19; Eze 14:1-9; Jer 23:25-29; Job 33:15-17; Isa 29:7-11).
Jer 29:8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.
Speech and knowledge come to us through words which reveal spirits or the “fowls that fly in the…heaven” even as “the firmament shows His handiwork” in our heart/mind (Gen 1:20-23; Rev 19:17; Mat 13:19; Eph 6:12; Psa 19:1-3). Mental images, like dreams, attach themselves also to words or meaningful concepts in our mind. We are commanded by God to try every spirit behind words that come to us, and this also applies to the interpretation of dreams (1Jn 4:1-6). The only true way to try any spirit is by the spirit of God which is His infallible word as the true interpretation of any dream belongs to God:
Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Gen 40:8 And they said to him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said to them, Do not interpretations belong to God? Now tell it to me.
God speaks in various similitudes (“dark sayings”) to us before we can see the enlightening brightness of His express image in His Word (Psa 78:1-4; Pro 1:6; Hos 12:10; Eph 1:17-18):
Heb 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
When God speaks “mouth to mouth” with a person, it is deeply intimate, and there is no chance of delusion to creep in. This intimacy is the prerogative of God’s elect in this life, and God makes no excuse for His choices, as typified in the way God spoke to Moses:
Num 12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
Num 12:7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
Num 12:8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
The Word of God is the highest expression and measure of spirituality which also reveals the very mind of God through Christ, the Word (Joh 1:1-3). God indeed speaks in different ways to people, but in the final analysis it must be tested against the expressed word of God, even that Word “which is written”:
1Co 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
Faith comes only through the Word and no other communication from God can replace this in the final analysis if we are to please God (Rom 10:17; Heb 11:6; Rom 1:17). Only the faith of Christ will produce the works of Godly righteousness in our lives (Gal 5:22-23; Eph 2:10; 1Ti 5:25; 2Ti 3:17; Jas 2:17). The strong delusion of gnosticism and mysticism (especially Christian mysticism) is prevalent even in our day and especially in the field of dreams and dream analysis. God willing, we will avoid “profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science [knowledge] falsely so called” which hide false and deceitful spirits (1Ti 6:20). The fear of the Lord is only found in the obedient submission to His word as the highest authority on any subject and all else should be seen as vanities and deceit of men (Isa 55:8-9):
Ecc 5:7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.
Jer 23:25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.
Jer 23:26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;
Jer 23:27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.
Jer 23:28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
Jer 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
Spiritual chaff is when we take pride in our dreams and visions and follow man – even our own man of sin and his spiritual ideas (2Th 2:3-4). This chaff prevents us from seeing that it is God who also brings those deceitful dreams and their fulfillment which becomes the strong delusion from which few escape in this life (Jer 23:27; 2Th 2:11):
Deu 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
Deu 13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
Deu 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deu 13:4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
Deu 13:5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
Abimelech was the king of a righteous nation from his perspective:
Gen 20:4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?
Gen 20:5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
The words “in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this” expose Abimelech’s self-righteous attitude as he is convinced that he is the cause of his not sinning. Abimelech sees himself as ruler of a “righteous nation”, as the Philistines are used by God as a symbol of our own uncircumcised self-righteous Babylonian flesh which has limited communication with God. This is when we believe we have faith, but it is all of our own doing. This is the counterfeit faith which is causing us to do wonderful good works in God’s name when we cannot “approve things that are excellent” (1Co 12:31):
Php 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
Php 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere [unfeigned faith – 1Tim 1:5] and without offence till the day of Christ;
Php 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Jesus warned about this untried and insincere faith that abounds not “more and more in [true] knowledge and in all judgment” (1Pe 1:6-9; Rev 15:8):
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
As in the case with this Abimelech, this self-righteous flesh will always compare and point to the life and words of God’s elect when the elect do err and walk deceitfully after the darkness of their carnal mind (2Co 10:12). Abraham indeed told lies about his true relationship with Sarah though she was of the same father as Abraham, but not of the same mother (Gen 20:12). A half lie is a 100% lie as a little leaven affects and infiltrates the whole lump eventually if not repented of and removed quickly (Gal 2:4-5; 1Co 5:1-7; 1Jn 3:3):
Gal 5:9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
God acknowledged Abimelech’s innocence in this respect but also reveals to him (and us) that it is God who keeps anyone from falling:
Gen 20:6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.
God is the only One that is able to keep us from falling:
Jud 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
The phrase “that [God] is able to keep us from falling” does not deny the truth that He also is the cause behind our falling.
Isa 63:17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.
This is what God also reveals through His words in the dream of Abimelech and the lie of Abraham (Psa 119:10-11; Rom 1:28):
Gen 20:7 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.
Abraham is still God’s chosen prophet, and he is ordained by God to pray for Abimelech to stay alive! It is through the elect that God will bring spirit life because they are the true prophets of God. They are the only ones ordained by God to speak His words and doctrine of truth. As we see in Abraham’s life, this includes the humiliating process in which the just man shall fall seven times and be risen up to fulfill this duty. The elected ones in God’s house are indeed first to be crushed to powder in this life and shall never come to God in haughty fleshliness (1Pe 4:17; Mat 21:44):
Pro 24:15 Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place:
Pro 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
The dwelling of the righteous is the mind of Christ and His true doctrine. To have that in your midst will surely bring death to the flesh, and that is what the presence of Sarah in Abimelech’s household symbolized:
Gen 20:8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.
God’s truths reveal and destroy our own self-righteousness, pride and lusts for our ultimate salvation from this earthly life (Joh 1:5; 2Pe 1:19). But the carnal mind cannot understand or accept God’s fiery and fearsome judgment because it cannot see why self-righteousness must be replaced with God’s righteousness in our lives (Isa 26:9, 1Co 2:14):
Gen 20:9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.
Gen 20:10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?
It was the Philistines who also housed the ark of God for a time and wanted to get rid of it when they found that death of the flesh is associated with the truth of God (1Sa 5:1-12; 1Sa 6:1-21). Abraham’s explanation to Abimelech as to why he lied to him is very revealing to us:
Gen 20:11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.
Gen 20:12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.
Gen 20:13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.
This subtle lie was part of the life of Abraham (which Sarah also agreed with) since the time they left Ur in the land of the Chaldees. It appeared when needed, and Abraham never dealt with this lie properly. Our flesh has a way to hide pet sins as if they are innocent and not harming anyone. Our flesh believes its own delusion and is in love with its own solutions. It devises deceptive and creative schemes to avoid judgment on these private sins. But our deepest hidden motives will be judged by God as we must be sure that our sin will find us out when we avoid entering into battle against these hidden enemies (Num 32:23). God in His mercy will bring His deliverance through very strange ways, even through the dreams and sacrifices of the world:
Gen 20:14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.
Gen 20:15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.
Gen 20:16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.
Even the world knows that taking another man’s wife is a grievous sin in the eyes of God which will serve as a shameful rebuke when we take our eyes off God’s pearl of great price, even His doctrine (Job 31:1). This sacrifice of possessions from the side of this Philistine king all proves that God’s truth will be established in our hearts through His fiery humbling process – a thousand pieces of silver (10 X 10 X 10) points to the process of how God’s word is tried in a furnace of earth (Mat 4:4; Psa 12:6; Pro 17:3). Our righteous judgments and our walk should exceed that of the world (Mat 5:18-20). To disobey the doctrine of Christ does not only bring great shame, but if we do not repent of our sins, a terrible punishment awaits when we indeed trod the Son of God under our feet:
Heb 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Heb 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
God’s elect will be kept faithful to His commandments as they will be humbled to admit to their sins and agree with their adversary quickly before they bring a gift to the altar of God (Mat 5:23-26). God’s faithful elect will be used by God to the salvation of Jesus to all in the generation of the first Adam:
Gen 20:17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.
Gen 20:18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.