July 02, 2024

Dreams of Promise

Genesis 15:1-21

As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.

—  Genesis 15:12

I awoke this morning from a weirdly confusing dream. Scientists call the dreaming phase of sleep “rapid eye movement” (REM) sleep. In REM sleep our minds process and assimilate information from our day-to-day experiences. Sometimes, as we learn in the Bible, God uses REM sleep to communicate with people.

Our Bible reading today tells us about two of God’s messages to Abram. First, in a vision, God gives an astounding promise: he will make Abram the father of many descendants—as many as the stars in the sky (vv. 1-6)! Then, at sunset, Abram falls into “a deep sleep”—a dark hole of dreams in which God promises that he will inherit the land he is living in.

Though Abram may have been perplexed by these messages, he took God at his word, and God “credited it to him as righteousness.” Later, as a sign of his promises, God also renamed Abram as Abraham, which means “father of multitudes'' (Genesis 17:5).

Most of our dreams just leave us confused, but in this story sleep plays an outsized role in God’s promise to bless Abraham and all of humankind. God reveals his great love in a grand design that ultimately points to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Not every dream carries a message. But our dreams can remind us to trust the one who created us with the ability to dream.

Father God, even when we are asleep, we can be assured of your presence and promise in our lives. Help us to trust and rest in you. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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