Topic Study: Vision

(April 2002 TG Entry: Vision)


The term “Vision” to us means something we see.  But in the scriptures, not all references refer to something that is seen.  If something is seen, it may not be an actual representation of something.  A better definition of a vision in a scripture sense is something that is communicated.  References to the word vision in the scripture include the following categories:

  1. Open visions, even in the daytime
  2. Dreams
  3. Other kinds of communication
  4. Apostasy and Lack of visions among the wicked
  5. Cumulative knowledge of God

We can grow in our ability to recognize, and understand communication from God.

I             Clear Visions

D&C Section 76 is the best example of a clear, daytime vision.  The vision was received in the Samuel Johnson home, south of Kirtland Ohio.  The room is on the second floor.  There were a number of people present that day.  Many recorded feeling the power of the Spirit, but only Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith saw the vision.  At times, they would describe what they were seeing to those in the room.  There is probably not a better description of the process of receiving a vision than this instance.

  • Num. 24:4 saw the v. of the Almighty
  • 2 Sam. 7:17 (1 Chr. 17:15) according to all this v., so did Nathan speak
  • Ezek. 40:2 In the v. of God brought he me into … Israel
  • Ezek. 43:3 v. were like the v. that I saw by the river
  • Dan. 2:19 secret revealed unto Daniel in a night v.
  • Dan. 8:26 v. of the evening and the morning … is true
  • Dan. 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined … to seal up the v.
  • Dan. 10:7 Daniel alone saw the v.
  • Joel 2:28 (Acts 2:17) young men shall see v.
  • Obad. 1:1 v. of Obadiah
  • Matt. 17:9 Tell the v. to no man
  • Luke 1:22 they perceived that he had seen a v.
  • Luke 24:23 they had also seen a v. of angels
  • Acts 7:55 saw … Jesus standing on the right hand of God
  • Acts 26:19 I was not disobedient unto the heavenly v.
  • 2 Cor. 12:1 I will come to v. and revelations
  • Rev. 9:17 I saw the horses in the v.
  • 1 Ne. 1:8 he was carried away in a v.
  • 1 Ne. 10:17 things which he saw in a v.
  • D&C 76:14 with whom we conversed in the heavenly v.
  • D&C 76:47 Lord, show it by v. unto many
  • D&C 76:50 we bear record—for we saw and heard
  • D&C 76:80 end of the v. … of the terrestrial
  • D&C 76:81 we saw the glory of the telestial
  • D&C 110:11 After this v. closed, the heavens were again opened
  • D&C 137:1 I beheld the celestial kingdom
  • D&C 138:60 v. of the redemption of the dead
  • Moses 1:2 saw God face to face, and he talked with him
  • Moses 1:27 Moses … beheld the earth
  • Moses 7:23 Enoch beheld … all the nations of the earth
  • Abr. 1:15 filled me with the v. of the Almighty
  • JS-H 1:17 I saw two Personages
  • JS-H 1:21 saying … there were no such things as v.
  • JS-H 1:24 nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a v.
  • JS-H 1:33 a messenger sent from the presence of God
  • JS-H 1:72 messenger who visited us on this occasion

II            Dreams

When Lehi saw his vision of the tree of life, he said:

2 And it came to pass that while my father tarried in the wilderness he spake unto us, saying: Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision.

1 Ne. 8:2

The first part of his vision has the qualities of a dream.  Lehi does not seem to indicate that what he saw is a literal representation of where he and his family either have been, are, or will be some time.  The tree of life and river of filthy water, the great and spacious building and other elements of the “vision” represent aspects of the Savior, hell, or the world.

But the dream certainly qualifies as a vision in the sense that Lehi’s dream was a communication from God in which he both heard and saw things that gave him greater insight into God and his plan for man.

  • Num. 12:6 Lord will make myself known unto him in a v.
  • Job 4:13 thoughts from the v. of the night
  • Job 7:14 thou … terrifiest me through v.
  • Job 33:15 (2 Ne. 27:3) In a dream, in a v. of the night
  • Isa. 29:11 v. of all is become unto you as the words of a book
  • Jer. 1:11 word of the Lord … saying … what seest thou
  • Ezek. 8:3 spirit … brought me in the v. of God to Jerusalem
  • Dan. 7:2 I saw in my v. by night
  • Dan. 8:1 v. appeared unto me … Daniel
  • Micah 3:6 ye shall not have a v.
  • Acts 12:9 he … thought he saw a v.
  • Acts 16:9 (18:9) v. appeared to Paul in the night

III           Communication

There are other entries in the topic of “vision” which describe communications with God in some way or another.  We cannot tell whether there was anything seen or heard, or if it was simply a very strong impression.  For example:

2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob.  And he said, Here am I.

3 And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

Gen. 46:2 – 3

IV          Visions of the Wicked

The term vision certainly means a type of communication that is powerful.  The scriptures speak of a time when the wicked will be ashamed of their visions:

4 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:

5 But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.

Zech. 13:4 – 5


V           Cumulative Knowledge

Some prophets introduce their entire book of scripture with the thought that all their communication has been a vision.  For example the first chapter first verse of Isaiah records:

1 THE vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Isa. 1:1

VI          Gain Ability

There appears to be a spiritual gift to understand visions and dreams.

17 ¶ As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

Dan. 1:17

We should strive, including praying for the ability, to recognize and understand communications from our Heavenly Father.

2 Chr. 26:5 had understanding in the v. of God

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