I should start off by making a distinction in words. A dream is something you have when you’re asleep; a desire is something you may have when you’re awake or asleep and could stay with you for a long time. A desire has a goal in mind. Dreams typically are interpreted rather than dictate verbatim how life will go. A desire should not need interpretation nor should it be very difficult to tell whether it is good or bad because a desire chiefly traces back to ones motives. Your motives, intentions, desires, all function together; a desire may change or be corrected and a desire is subject to a person’s will. Whereas a dream, though can be affected by what we consume is pretty much impossible to control primarily because in order to have one you would be asleep. It is involuntary whereas your desires require your participation and exercise of the will. In short if I will to obey God out of desire for Him I am acting correctly in light of His goodness and I may be commended for it. If I will out of desire to choose sin then James 1:14-15 gives indication that I have given way to temptation and chose to birth sin in my life which faithfully pays the dividends of death. How that payment is propitiated is precisely tied to whether I receive the debt as paid for through the death of Christ or I can fail while trying to pay for it through the decay of myself which includes my passions pleasures and priorities. This also stems from a desire to either want to act as God for myself or to allow God to act as God on my behalf. In short my desires can cost me everything or nothing (in light of the glory that awaits me).
A dream has value, only in so far as what they mean or the instruction that can be gleaned from them. Whenever scripture references a dream it either presumes or lets you know that the person having one is asleep. These dreams reveal very little about the person having them, they may reveal something about God, but the response provoked from them isn’t necessarily a reflection of God. Jacob in Genesis 28 had a dream of angels ascending and descending on a ladder and in it is a promise for the blessedness of his offspring. As a result Jacob acknowledges God’s presence, builds a stone altar makes a vow to God to give him back a tenth of all he gets from Him.
A few chapters later Jacob’s son, Joseph, has a dream and announces to his family, mostly consisting of his older brothers, that he will rule over them. They respond by plotting against him and selling him into slavery where he takes a pretty long hiatus from the dreams fulfillment but faithfully responds to God the remainder of his life. In the New Testament the other Joseph, Jesus’ adopted dad is pretty much only referred to in light of his dreams. The gospel of Matthew recounts 3 potentially 4 different dreams Joseph had, all of which in regard to how he would lead his family. He chose to stay married to Mary, and then chose to move his family on several occasions while impoverished to escape violence.
While all those dreams in scripture served a purpose, Jude 1:8 as well as the OT prophets warn of those who follow their literal dreams to their own pollution because they reject authority and reject reality. OT false prophets shared false dreams as a form of manipulation to coerce people towards disobedience by attaching false promises to them. There is a danger to appealing to the authority of dreams without appealing to the authority of God. Dreams are not meant to function to make us wait for a déjà vu moment. If they were I’d be waiting for a lot of strange things to happen. I’ve woken up many times thankful that it was “just a dream” which is precisely the reason why the danger in dreams is awaiting their literal fulfillment. Dreams yearn for interpretation sometimes someone else’s interpretation which should be sought out in community. (See the story of Joseph, the book of Daniel) No matter how pleasurable or horrid a dream, one thing is certain it’s not reality. If God wanted to give us something that needn’t interpretation He’s intimate enough to speak to us intimately when we are awake as we give him our time.
Most people don’t struggle from disobedience as a result of something they had in their sleep. Most including myself have uncertainty and make bad decisions due to desire, which is a topic that needs additional discussion. Before we get there, I hope this was somewhat helpful for defining our terms. Stay tuned to help me navigate through desire, God’s will and what really matters in the end. Thanks for reading!