Dreaming in the Last Days

Science says the pandemic has increased dream recall. Scripture confirms it.

Have you been dreaming a lot lately? Most importantly, do your dreams seem more vivid than usual?

One of the fascinating side-effects of COVID-19 is its effect on our dream life. The New York Times, Time Magazine, and National Geographic have all reported on this phenomenon. Here’s an excerpt from the latter

Though these [neurological] processes happen nightly, most people don’t typically remember their dreams. Living through the coronavirus pandemic might be changing that due to heightened isolation and stress, influencing the content of dreams and allowing some dreamers to remember more of them… According to an ongoing study the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center in France initiated in March, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a 35 percent increase in dream recall among participants.

This scientific explanation is validated by Scripture—“a dream comes when there are many cares” (Ecclesiastes 5:3). At the same time, we’d be selling ourselves short if we stopped at a scientific explanation without considering the supernatural one. The prophet Joel tells us to expect an increase of dream activity in the Last Days. In Acts 2, when the Spirit is poured out on Pentecost, Peter quotes the prophet:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.

Dreams and visions are on the rise because, as the Bible says, the Spirit no longer dwells in a Temple made by human hands. He dwells in the Temple of sons and daughters, young men and old men, and servants of every kind. This same Holy Spirit, poured out on believers at Pentecost, has also been sent into the unbelieving world, convicting people of their need for Jesus (John 16:8-11). 

One place we’re seeing this, at unprecedented levels, is in the Muslim world. Mission Frontiers Magazine has estimated that 25% of Muslim conversions come as a result of dreams. These dreams often follow a typical pattern: a man in white appears to the dreamer. The man quotes a Scripture or tells them to do something. The dream results in the person feeling totally clean and at peace.

David Garrison is one of the most renowned missiologists on the planet. In the 1990s, he and many others started to notice an unprecedented shift in human history: the first twelve centuries of Islam’s existence only gave us three mass Muslim-to-Christian movements. Now, in the 21st century alone, we have sixty-nine full-blown movements.

What brought about such a sweeping change? Garrison says dreams are playing a major role in Muslim conversions.

Though dreams have fallen into disrepute in the West, they retain their currency in the House of Islam. A common phrase found in many testimonies gathered from West Africa to East Asia began with the words, "I had a dream...." Like the wind itself, these dreams came as invisible harbingers of change. For many, they recall the words of Jesus to a nighttime seeker, "The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).

The Holy Spirit, to use David Garrison’s words, is “a wind blowing in the House of Islam.” The Spirit is also a wind blowing in the House of God. Together, these winds are converging to fulfill two great end times promises. The first is that the Last Days will be filled with dreams and visions. The second is the evangelization of every tongue, tribe, and nation. Once this happens, the Gospel of Matthew says, “then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). 

The spring marks severe weather season in many parts of the United States, including where I live in Texas. When the winds begin to stir, we pay attention to the weather patterns and the changing skies. Often, this means storm clouds will soon appear on the horizon.

We need to be just as attentive to the signs of the times (Matthew 16:2-4). What are the patterns telling us? God is speaking through our dreams to empower His church and awaken a sleepy world for His return.

As it says in Ephesians 5:14: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”