Posted in theology

I dreamed a dream…was it from God? What does it mean?

By Elizabeth Prata

Dreamers! So many people have claimed to have had a dream… ‘O, it was so vivid … I have never dreamed like this before … it HAS to be from God … what does it MEAN?’ they say.

Have you heard a false teacher claiming a dream came to them from God? Has a friend said that? I have read that and heard people say that. With the weird dreams comes an attempt to interpret them. It’s natural to be curious about what goes on in our minds, especially when we are asleep.

Dreams and interpretation of dreams occurs often in scripture. Joseph in the Old Testament had dreams, Abimelech, Jacob dreamed of a ladder to heaven, Pharaoh, Solomon… Famously, Pharaoh’s dream was upsetting to him and he brought his dream interpreters to the throne room and asked them to interpret. They couldn’t.

Joseph told the cup bearer and the baker while he was in prison that interpretations belong to God. Joseph asserted God’s sole power to interpret dreams again when Pharaoh asked him for help, after Pharaoh’s own interpreters had failed.

Scientists aren’t even sure where dreams come from or how they are. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia article author of dreams articles, WG Clippinger, says,

The stimuli of dreams may be of two kinds. First, they may be physical and objective, or they may be due to suggestions and the association of ideas. They may be due to some physical disorder, such as imperfect digestion or circulation, improper ventilation or heating, or an uncomfortable position. Since by the very nature of the case dreams do not occur in a conscious state, the real cause cannot easily be discoverable and then only after the subject is entirely awakened through the effects of it. They may also be due to the association of ideas. Suggestion plays a large part. The vividness and recency of a conscious impression during the waking state may be thrown up from the subconscious region during the sleeping hours.

That paragraph alone gives lots of reasons why the origin of our dreams are suspect. You’re cold, uncomfortable, suggestible, digestion gone awry…

There are many people in the Bible who had legitimate dreams sent from the One True God. But that doesn’t mean that in today’s time, the dreams we have and that we’re sure came from God, actually are. They could just be that leftover pizza causing physiological disruption. You want to be careful not to attribute something to God when it’s just gas!

Did you know there is a name for pagan dream interpretation services? Those who claim ability to divine the ephemeral wisps of unconscious activity are called Oneiromancers. The practice of divining dreams is called Oneiromancy. (Oh-nigh-row-mancy). It is the practice of interpreting dreams in order to foretell the future. There were plenty of these guys roaming around Egypt when Joseph was in prison, and elsewhere too. Oneiromancy is a form of divination, and divination was forbidden by God. He said not to do it. (Leviticus 19:26). He calls it rebellion and sin. (1 Samuel 15:23).

In the Bible days people used to seek dreams on purpose. Some thought that if they slept in or on the graves of those who were dead the dead would speak to them in dreams. Really. I am not making this up. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia says-

"The other species of dreams consists of such as are induced by what is called “incubation,” i.e. by sleeping in a sacred place where the god of the place is believed to reveal his secrets to the sleeper. Herodotus (iv.172) says that the Nasamonians, an Egyp tribe, used to practise divination by sleeping in the graves of their ancestors. The dreams which then came to them were understood to be revelations of their deified ancestors". Source- The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, TW Davies.

Everything old is new again, we see people doing that today, believe it or not! It is called ‘grave sucking‘ today and false prophet Bill Johnson of Bethel started it.

Buddhists, Hindus and other religions practice oneiromancy today. In this study, the scientists concluded, “We observed that while Abrahamic monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) recognize dreams as a way to communicate with God to understand the present and predict the future, the traditional Indian religions (Buddhism and Hinduism) are more engaged in cultivating self-awareness…”

Buddhists and Hindus engage in “Yogic Sleep,” Transcendental Meditation, Lucid Dream practice and more in order to gain insight from ‘the other side’. Lest we think that stimulating a dream and subsequently interpreting it is relegated to other religions, dream interpretation services remain alive and well today in ‘Christian’ circles.

Just a quick scan on Amazon searching for “Christian Dream Interpretation” yields many results. These books in the screen shots below are written by ministers, or pastors, or people claiming connection to Christ, based on scripture they say, specifically for the Christian who may be curious about the dream they may have had and what it means. No. No. No.

Dream interpretation is sorcery, or divination. The Bible is strong on the magic arts. People who practice divination or sorcery won’t gain heaven. They will remain ‘outside’.

Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral persons, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. (Revelation 22:15).

Sisters, be careful what you do. These things are not innocent. Laying hands on a grave in order to force a dream, or buying a book from Amazon in order to interpret them, is rebellion and sin.

Yes we see dreams in the Bible as a form of communication from God to man, and yes we see the verse from Acts quoting the verse from Joel 2:28 “Your old men will have dreams, Your young men will see visions.” In the Old Testament days of the Law and in New Testament days of the church, many did dream. Those were legitimately sent by God as one way He communicated with people. But when the Bible was completed, revelatory dreams ceased, as did visions and foretelling prophecy. All we need to know is in the word of God. Dreams may revive in the Millennial kingdom, or even during the Tribulation, but they are not currently a mechanism God uses to directly communicate with us. He spoke through His son Jesus, and that word is contained in His Bible.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Watch out for charlatans who try to steal your blessing, swerve your walk, or otherwise try to convince you they have heard from God through dreams. Avoid those who try to teach you how to interpret your dreams for you. Reject that you can hear from God too in a dream and stop trying to purposely stimulate a dream (especially by laying on a grave!?), and don’t try to interpret them. As Joseph said, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God?‘ (Genesis 40:8; Genesis 41:16.)

Posted in theology

‘I want those mandrakes’, Rachel said. So what are mandrakes?

By Elizabeth Prata

Genesis 30:14-16. Rachel ‘bought’ Jacob by trading him to Leah for a night of passion because she wanted Leah’s son Reuben’s mandrakes that Reuben had found and brought to Leah.

“Mandrakes! I want those!,” Rachel said, coveting. She schemed and bargained for them. So what’s so hot about mandrakes? What are mandrakes? Are they valuable? Are they a plant, mineral, or something else? Why did Rachel want them so badly she was willing to give over her precious Jacob to the ‘lesser’ wife for a night in order to obtain them?

When you read the Bible, allow your mind to ask questions of it as you go. Then delve further when your reading is finished to learn more about what God has put down in His word. It’s how I learn best, anyway. Asking questions of the text may help you, too. Remember, the Spirit is in us to help illuminate the word. Asking questions of the text is a way to ask the Spirit, and his ministry will lead you to illumination. It’s a more active form of learning than just passively reading.

Let’s start with the verse:

Now in the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrake fruits in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But she said to her, “Is it a small matter for you to take my husband? And would you take my son’s mandrakes also?” So Rachel said, “Therefore he may sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.” When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must have relations with me, for I have indeed hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.

Mandrakes are in the field, so they are likely a plant. Let me look them up.

From Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary:

MANDRAKE Small, perennial plant (Mandragora officinarum) native to the Middle East. Although not grown for food, its root and berries are edible. The ancient Near East viewed it as an aphrodisiac and fertility drug. It is often called love apple or devil’s apple. According to Gen. 30:14–16 a barren Rachel bargained with Reuben (Leah’s oldest son) for some mandrakes which he had found. Leah, however, produced the children (Gen. 30:17–21). Only when God “remembered Rachel” did she bear Joseph (30:24).

Ah! It’s a fertility plant. Or allegedly it brings babies. Remember, Rachel was barren at that time. Leah had borne boys already. The competition was on. No wonder Rachel was hot to get those mandrakes.

But it’s the same old story. Man (or woman) scheme to get their way when God is sovereignly in control. Sarah used Hagar to get a child when God had already promised one to Abraham.

In fact God gave Leah two more sons after this incident, Zebulun and Issachar. Rachel remained barren for a long time after.

‎Mandrake, species name Mandragora officinarum, belongs to the nightshade family. All parts of the mandrake plant are poisonous if ingested in sufficient amounts. The parsnip-shaped root contains several different hallucinogenic alkaloids and is often branched, resembling a human figure. The root has long been used in magic rituals due to its shape and psychoactive properties. Leah sold some of the mandrakes that her son Reuben found to Rachel in exchange for uncontested time with Jacob; their son Issachar was conceived that night (Gen 30:14–16). Gen 30:14–16, Song 7:13.

Source for illustration and caption information from Myers, R. (2012). Images from The Temple Dictionary of the Bible.

The ancient Palestinians in the Near East thought mandrakes were an aphrodisiac. They used it as a fertility drug. It is interesting that it is known as the love apple or the devil’s apple. Biblical Studies Press says,

The unusual shape of the large forked roots of the mandrake resembles the human body with extended arms and legs. This similarity gave rise to the popular superstition that the mandrake could induce conception and it was therefore used as a fertility drug. It was so thoroughly associated with erotic love that its name is derived from the Hebrew root דּוֹד (dod, "love"), that is, דּוּדָאִים (duda’im) denotes "love-apples." Source Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (So 7:11–13).

Ah! Becoming much clearer to me now.

One more tidbit.

According to the legend, when the root is dug up, it screams and kills all who hear it. Ancient literature includes complex directions for harvesting a mandrake root in relative safety. For example, Josephus (circa 37–100 AD) of Jerusalem gives the following directions for pulling it up:

A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this, the root can be handled without fear.

Wikipedia
Mandragora, from Tacuinum Sanitatis (1474).

Rachel put her trust in a plant from the ground instead of the LORD above. Her scheming did not work out, it actually backfired. The LORD kept her barren a long time and she had to deal with her scheming personality, her competitiveness, and her impatience until He deemed her ready to bear a child.

We should trust in Him always. God knows best. He is perfect and has promised good to us. Seeking relief for infertility from a toxic plant doesn’t even compare to the goodness of our holy God.

Are there ‘mandrakes’ in your life? In mine? Do I seek my own way and scheme to fulfill personal desires, or do I pray to Jesus giving Him my cares and leave them in His hands? This is something I need to ask myself every day. The spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:40-43). Rachel eventually realized this. God is better than mandrakes.

Posted in theology

Little Chastenings

By Elizabeth Prata

I had been going through some things I had deemed little. People around me are going through great trials, loss of parent, illness of child, uncertainty about immediate future put at risk … whereas the things that have tried me lately have been such things as car breakdown leaving me by the side of the road which happens often, spending hours and days with customer service in getting my upgraded phone, my rapid hair loss and concern it was a terrible disease. I often think, ‘well those aren’t really BIG issues, I must be a terrible person for caving in to them’. I sought the Lord through them when they occurred but I deemed these daily life aggravations, not trials and not chastenings. Was I missing out? I wondered if or when the Lord would chastise me as Hebrews 12:11 says. or if I was even growing. But today’s devotional helped me. It may encourage you as well:

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Posted in theology

God’s Four Sore Judgments: #1: Sword

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
#1: Sword
#2: Plague

#3 Famine
#4: Beasts

Yesterday I introduced a series examining the LORD’S “Four Sore Judgments.” In other translations they are called the “LORD’S Four Severe Judgments.” They’re mentioned in Ezekiel 14:21. The four are Sword, Famine, Pestilence, and Beasts. In that intro I explained my reasons for why I think it’s important to examine these things, and not focus only on the ‘good’ aspects of God, like His love.

Clarke’s commentary explains, “My four sore judgments – Sword, war. Famine, occasioned by drought. Pestilence, epidemic diseases which sweep off a great part of the inhabitants of a land. The Noisome Beast, the multiplication of wild beasts in consequence of the general destruction of the inhabitants.” Wesley’s notes says, “How much more – If they could not be able to keep off one of the four, how much less would they be able to keep off all four, when I commission them all to go at once.”

It is a very dread situation when all four are unleashed.

The LORD has unleashed one at a time at frequent intervals throughout the Bible, in both the Old Testament (For example, plague in Jeremiah 21:6) and famine in the New (Acts 11:28). Infrequently, the LORD has unleashed all four at once. One example was bringing Ezekiel’s prophecy of chapter 14 to fruition in around 586BC at Jerusalem’s fall. The next time will be during the Tribulation. (Revelation 6).

The Tribulation will be a time when all four are unleashed full strength. I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and the one who sat on it had the name Death, and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, and famine, and plague, and by the wild animals of the earth. (Revelation 6:8).

Let’s look at the first of the four severe judgments: Sword.

Continue reading “God’s Four Sore Judgments: #1: Sword”
Posted in theology

God’s Four Sore Judgments: Introduction

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
#1: Sword
#2: Plague

#3 Famine
#4: Beasts

I have not written much about prophecy lately and that is a subject in which I like to study. Judgment is not a popular blog topic but it’s an important one. All of unconverted humanity hangs like a spider on a thin thread over the fearsome judgment in eternity. And such were some of us, as we were once objects of God’s wrath for our sins.

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Posted in theology

The Christian and Video Gaming

By Elizabeth Prata

Pong. Remember Pong? I do. According to PongGame.org, “The game was originally developed by Allan Alcorn and released in 1972 by Atari corporations. Soon, Pong became a huge success, and became the first commercially successful game…

Wikimedia commons

As soon as Pong came out, we got it. My father always got the newest, biggest, or best thing that came out. We thought Pong was amazing and that it ushered in a new space tech era.

And it sort of did.

Next came Space Invaders. “Space Invaders (1978) is considered one of the most influential video games of all time. It helped expand the video game industry from a novelty to a global industry, and ushered in the golden age of arcade video games”, says Wikipedia. I came across it in the student lounge at college. Go Black Bears! It cost a quarter to play. I sunk quarter after quarter in, listening for the boop-boop of the marching invaders, blasting them down one at a time. It was fun for a while, then thankfully the attraction wore off. I didn’t like spending hours in the dark “Bear’s Den” sticky with beer and lost hours guilty because of no productivity. Also, the lounge was loud. Eventually I went on to other things. Like books, lol.

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Posted in theology

Are you Seeking the Presence of God?

By Elizabeth Prata

The Christian women’s bookstore aisles or the online search result pages of women’s devotionals, books, and Bible curricula are rife with promises of feeling the presence of God. These materials entice you with its author’s descriptions of ecstasies and sensations of the actual presence of God they claim to have had.

This morning’s devotional from Frances Ridley Havergal in the book “Seasons of the Heart: A Year of Devotions from One Generation of Women to Another” rebutted that activity with a short and to-the-point essay. I’ve found none better. Here it is-

Continue reading “Are you Seeking the Presence of God?”
Posted in theology

Are usurping authority and teaching, two different activities or are they the same?

By Elizabeth Prata

A women sent in a question recently and it was a good one. I’ll share it and my answer here. She is a writer concerned that men if read her material she would be in sin. She was also uncertain if usurping authority and teaching men were the same activity or not. Finally, she had been told that no matter who her audience is, women are to teach only womanly things and not doctrine.

1. Is it OK for men to read my material?
2. Can or should women teach doctrine or should they just teach things that are in the womanly realm?
3. Are ‘usurp authority’ and ‘teaching’ two separate things or are they the same? 

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Posted in theology

Sin on the railroad tracks

By Elizabeth Prata

I read a thread on Twitter by CBS Los Angeles photojournalist John Schreiber about the issue of package pilfering on the railroad tracks. A picture sure is worth a thousand words. Here is the thread and Schreiber’s photos first, then I’ll discuss-

Thread by John Schreiber, photojournalist for CBS Los Angeles. @johnschreiber

Keep hearing of train burglaries in LA on the scanner so went to #LincolnHeights to see it all. And… there’s looted packages as far as the eye can see. Amazon packages, @UPS,  boxes, unused Covid tests, fishing lures, epi pens. Cargo containers left busted open on trains.

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Posted in theology

He listened to his wife

By Elizabeth Prata

Remember video stores? Before streaming was invented you had to physically go to a video store and rent a movie, checking it out from the store. You drive home and pop it in to the video cassette recorder machine hulking on top of your console tv to view whatever movie you’d rented. Then reverse the process to return it the next day. Back in the 1990s at the video store on a busy Friday night, I was looking for a movie adapted from an Oscar Wilde play called An Ideal Husband. I couldn’t find it, so I went to the gal at the checkout so she could peek at her catalog to see if it was lent out.

I’d asked, “Do you have An Ideal Husband?”

Without missing a beat, she said, “No, but if I did I wouldn’t lend him out!”

Continue reading “He listened to his wife”