While the prophets fell asleep to dream, the apostles of Jesus sleep awakened to the sight of Jesus in his divinity. The Chosen ones of old are led by prophetic visions, and the chosen apostles and disciples of Jesus are guided by the Son of God in the flesh.
The apostles live awake what the prophets of old experienced in dreamlike states.
Image by Jacques Savoye
By John Pearring
The similarity in the many visions of the Son of God reported throughout scripture is worth remembering. Even when the Son of God became Jesus — the Son of Man — the revelation of Jesus’ divinity came to the apostles just like the visions of the prophets.
Daniel’s verses are often quoted about God appearing as a Son of Man. He begins chapter 7 of Daniel, “… as Daniel lay in bed he had a dream, visions in his head. Then he wrote down the dream ….”
Daniel’s account of this detailed dream lays out a lengthy description of heaven. He ends with the entrance of the Son of God standing in front of God the Father, whom the Old Testament prophets call “the Ancient One.”
One like a Son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.
Sleepy, dreamy visions by the prophets remain vivid when they awaken and write down their accounts. Lovely verses in Numbers, Daniel, Hosea, and Joel, describe the same reality, painting a repeated picture of the living Son of God. In the New Testament read about this Son of God as Jesus, the incarnated Son of Man. The Old Testament prophecies neatly line up with the experiences of the apostles.
While the prophets fell asleep to dream, the apostles of Jesus sleep awakened to the sight of Jesus in his divinity. The Chosen ones of old are led by prophetic visions, and the chosen apostles and disciples of Jesus are guided by the Son of God in the flesh. The apostles live awake what the prophets of old experienced in dreamlike states.
God uses the semi-awake state of the prophets, however, as a similar vehicle for the apostles. The Spirit-filled prophets could only see the 2nd person of the Trinity in their dreams. The apostles and disciples saw Jesus upon waking from their sleep. At the Transfiguration, as reported by Luke, the apostles lay sleeping and woke up at Jesus’ transformation.
Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up a mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
The apostles also had fallen asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus conversed with God. He had to awaken them three times, according to Matthew.
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour
Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open.
He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.”
Yes, their sleepiness smacks of slovenly disrespect, but God has used sleep as a vehicle for thousands of years. It makes sense. The dreamy state can be a memorable one. Jesus, stunned by the apostles repeatedly falling asleep, indeed realized the intensity of God’s use of dreams.
Peter, James, and John at the Transformation didn’t fully understand their “awakened” sight of Jesus being transformed. None more than the prophets could explain the visions that they beheld. The scriptures come to us like that — privileged reports, confidential insights, and a nurtured documentation of God throughout millennia.
Our hearing and reading of these visions and divine revelations put us in a unique situation. We’re charged not just with believing the reporters and the documents. We also will be visited by God in our dream states.
It shall come to pass
I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
We do not stand alone, certainly. And, we do not stand at the end of the story. There is more to come, as the book of Revelation tells us. We will need God’s mercy as sinners for repeated periods of rejecting God. In the final coming, at the return of Jesus, sleep will not be how God comes.
We’ve read of Jesus being in the clouds as the prophets and apostles watched him, whether awake or in their dreams. Another visage, more than just a vision, will unfold for those of us at the end of this age.
Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen.
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