Angels, Angel of the Lord
Angels, and the Angel of the Lord in particular, have been actively involved in conveying God's will to humans.
The "angel of the Lord" talked with Hagar and had her return to Abraham after he had her cast away (Genesis 16) and kept Abraham from sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22). It spoke to Moses through a burning bush and commissioned him to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage (Exodus 3)
This "angel of the Lord" also blocked Balaam's journey to curse Israel on the command of Balak (Numbers 22). It appeared to Gideon and talked with him in order to strengthen him for battle (Judges 6) and appeared to a barren woman to inform her she would ultimately give birth to Samson (Judges 13). This angel carried out a plague in Israel as punishment for King David carrying out a census (2Samuel 24). It also encouraged Elijah the prophet to eat and continue his travels toward the mount of God (1Kings 19).
The "angel of God" appeared to the Apostle Paul to inform him that, although his ship would sink, all lives would be saved (Acts 27:22 - 24). See our article on angels in the New Testament for the many interactions humans have had with these spirit beings!
Dreams, which occur during sleep, are one of the primary ways God communicates his will. They are sometimes Biblically referred to as "night visions" (Genesis 46:2, Job 4:13, Daniel 2:19, Isaiah 29:7) or "visions of your head" (Daniel 2:28).
God can use dreams to convey what a person should (or should not) do, or to relay knowledge of future events. He also utilizes them to offer encouragement or to impart spiritual truth. See our article on dreams in Scripture for a list of the manifold purposes of such supernatural events!
The Bible records many individuals contacted by God through their dreams. They include King Abimelech of Gerar (Genesis 20:3), Jacob (Genesis 28:12, 31:10), Laban (Jacob's employer, Genesis 31:24), Joseph (Genesis 37:5, 9) and an imprisoned butler and baker that talked with Joseph (Genesis 40).
Others who received dreams from the eternal God include Egypt's Pharaoh (Genesis 41), Gideon (Judges 7), King Solomon (1Kings 3:5), Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2) and Daniel (Daniel 7). In the New Testament, Joseph (Jesus' stepfather), the Persian wise men (Matthew 2) and Pontius Pilate's wife (Matthew 27) all received dreams which talked to them.
"And He said, 'Hear now My words. If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known to him in a vision, and will speak to him in a dream'" (Numbers 12:6, HBFV throughout).
"And afterward it shall be that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams; your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28, see also Acts 2:17).
Direct (or through Holy Spirit)
"I (God) will speak with him (Moses) mouth to mouth, even clearly, and not in dark speeches. And he shall behold the likeness of the Lord." (Numbers 12:8, see also 7:89).
"And after falling to the ground, he heard a voice say to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?' And he (Saul) said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.'" (Acts 9:4 - 5).
"I besought the Lord three times for this (Paul's thorn in the flesh), that it might depart from me; but He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you; for My power is made perfect in weakness.'" (2Corinthians 12:8 - 9).
A Roman Centurion named Cornelius is told, in a vision, to request that Peter come and baptize him (Acts 10). The entire book of Revelation was revealed to the Apostle John through visions (see Revelation 9:17).
God sometimes communicates to us by providing an outline (template, shadow) of spiritual principles and realities. Many times these shadows point to a future time when God's will and purpose will be fully manifested.
"Therefore, do not allow anyone to judge you in eating or in drinking, or with regard to a festival, or new moon, or the Sabbaths, which are a foreshadow of the things that are coming, but the body of Christ." (Colossians 2:16 - 17).
"Now on the one hand, if He (Jesus Christ) were on earth He would not even be a priest since there are priests who offer gifts according to the priestly law;
"Who serve as a representation and shadow of the heavenly things, exactly as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to construct the tabernacle: 'For see,' says He, 'that you make all things according to the pattern that was shown to you in the mountain.' (Hebrews 8:4 - 5)
"For the priestly law, having only a shadow of the good things that are coming, and not the image of those things, with the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, is never able to make perfect those who come to worship." (Hebrews 10:1).
"We also possess the confirmed prophetic Word to which you do well to pay attention, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts;
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture originated as anyone's own private interpretation; because prophecy was not brought at any time by human will, but the holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (2Peter 1:19 - 21).
"Concerning which salvation the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you have diligently searched out and intently inquired searching into what way and what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them was indicating . . .
"To whom it was revealed that, not for themselves, but to us they were ministering these things, which now have been announced to you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit, sent from heaven - into which things the angels desire to look." (1Peter 1:10 - 12).
Signs (Token) and Wonders
Many times a miraculous sign or wonder is initiated by God to communicate his involvement in the affairs of humans. They can be used to denote something that has been set aside for a special purpose, to confirm a promise he has made or to convey his approval (or disapproval).
"Speak also to the children of Israel, saying, 'Truly you shall keep My Sabbaths, for it (the keeping of God's Sabbaths) is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations to know that I am the Lord Who sanctifies you. (Exodus 31:13).
"And it shall come to pass, if you will not hearken to the voice of the Lord your God to observe and to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you . . . And they shall be on you for a sign and for a wonder, and on your seed forever. (Deuteronomy 28:15, 46).
"And the Lord said, 'Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years, for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia; So shall the king of Assyria lead away Egypt's prisoners, and the Ethiopian exiles . . .'" (Isaiah 20:3 - 4).
"And He (Jesus) answered and said to them, 'A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
"For just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, in like manner the Son of man shall be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.'" (Matthew 12:39 - 40, see also 27:63).
Visions generally occur during waking hours although the Bible seems to indicate they can take place during a dream. They appear, in a person's mind, as detailed and vivid as anything else they have experienced.
Those who have experienced a vision include Abraham (Genesis 15), Jacob (Genesis 46), the false prophet Balaam (Numbers 24), Micaiah (1Kings 22) and a very young Samuel the prophet (1Samuel 3). A vision talked with Nathan the prophet to tell him not only that King David's throne would be established forever but also that David's son (Solomon) would build a temple for God (2Samuel 7).
The prophet Ezekiel had many spiritual truths revealed to him through visions (Ezekiel 1, 8, 11, 37, 43). Daniel saw several visions, including one showing four great world empires (Daniel 7) and the Ancient of Days (God) sitting on his throne (Daniel 7:9 - 10). Many of the Old Testament's Minor Prophets received revelations through visions.
Peter, James, and John saw the transfiguration of Jesus in a vision and the appearance of Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1 - 9). Stephen, the first martyr, was blessed with a vision of God's throne before he perished (Acts 7:55).
According to the Apostle Paul, the Old Testament scriptures are, "able to make you wise unto salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus" (2Timothy 3:15).
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work." (2Timothy 3:16 - 17).
"Beloved, when personally exerting all my diligence to write to you concerning the common salvation, I was compelled to write to you, exhorting you to fervently fight for the faith . . ." (Jude 3)
"What you (Apostle John) see, write in a book, and send it to the churches that are in Asia . . ." (Revelation 1:11).