Dreams, Visions, and Prophecy
"It will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams."
- Acts 2:17
For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds.
- Job 33:14-15 (NLT)
Do not despise prophecies.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:20
“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.”
– Charles. H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1876), 1.
There are five dreams in Matthew 1 and 2, in Genesis Abraham had a dream, Joseph had dreams and interpreted them to great profit, and we're specifically told in Acts 2:17 that we would have dreams and visions in the last days, and the last days are happening right now!
So why are dreams and visions treated by some Christians as a side-effect of pizza or pizza toppings? Who started this? I didn't get the memo.
The whole "pizza causes strange dreams" lie was probably whispered by Satan in the ear of a Christian who didn't understand that God always speaks to prophets in coded mysteries per Numbers 12:8 and Hosea 12:10, and Matthew 13:13 ... because such Christians unfortunately had their local pizza joints on speed dial, instead of their Bible.
That's my theory.
A dream is like a hand grenade: properly interpreted and acted upon it can destroy your problems, or if improperly interpreted and acted on it can destroy you and/or your loved ones.
I know someone who had been falsely prophesied over, "Your thoughts are God's thoughts" and it filled that Christian with pride, which wrecked his life by making him un-correctable.
True prophecy, and a dream or vision properly interpreted always:
1) glorifies God
2) corrects and edifies and lifts the Christians who hear
3) encouraging the saints to praise and worship the true God
4) never contradicts the Bible
5) never puffs up the hearers with pride
There's no reason to relegate dream interpretation as some black art practiced only by elite Christians, or worse yet, those who worship Satan. So why should we abandon a mode of communication God commonly uses throughout the Bible, as something for "other people", when the Bible shows us it is clearly for everyone, and especially the believer?
I remember driving an RV through north Texas towards Oklahoma, when I got pulled over for driving badly. The officer asked me why I was driving from California to New York, and I told him that my ministry partner had a dream from God that told him to go to New York, and we were driving cross country.
Though this officer was a professing Christian, he said with exasperation, "that's weird!" so then I pointed him to Matthew 1 and 2 and told him God giving dreams to believers is standard Christianity, and he settled down and resumed questioning me.
Police Officer: "Are there any places in the RV you could hide drugs?"
Me: "There are lots of places in the RV I could hide drugs."
Police Officer: (impatient) "You can go ..."
Dreams and visions can seem mysterious, because they may have symbols or items or people in them that require interpretation. If you don't interpret dreams, then you may flippantly discard dreams because, "a dream comes through the multitude of business" per Ecclesiastes 5:3 when it's the Lord Himself trying to clue your genius self in.
So why does God use Biblical symbols in dreams? Perhaps so that we're forced to know our Bibles to accurately interpret dreams, which means we're better acquainted with the difference between "right" and "almost right" (a.k.a. "discernment"), and it makes it harder for Satan to trick Christians with deceptive dreams, while Jesus also draws us closer to Himself the Word per John 1:1, which is the Bible.
I remember meeting with a Christian woman who despised her husband, and was dating a boyfriend. She had a dream she was walking next to a body of water with her boyfriend, and an alligator jumped out and attacked them. Now, if the alligator isn't obvious enough as a type of Satan, then the fact that divorce is plainly forbidden by the Bible for Christians would make it clear that being married and then cavorting with another man brings curses of (alligators) demons attacking.
In contrast, if you think Christians can divorce and marry all we desire, and that "God has blessed my 2nd marriage, and my ex-wife's 2nd marriage", then one would look at that same "Walking with my boyfriend while my husband is alive, and an alligator attacked us" dream and say, "That's from the devil!"
The difference between the right and wrong interpretation is, the Bible's judgement, God's Word.
Since symbols in dreams and visions are used by God instead of straightforward talking, each symbol has much story and meaning packed up in it. Therefore, "step 1" in dream interpretation is keep your nose in your Bible!
DIRECTIONS FOR INTERPRETATION
- We trust the Holy Spirit living in us will assist us understand the interpretation of the dream and whether it is from God or Satan, as we filter the dream through the symbols and precepts of the Bible. Unless a Christian is in gross deception, they should expect the vast majority of dreams they receive are from God.
- Several things should be considered regarding the dream prior to "SEEKING UNDERSTANDING OF THE ELEMENTS or any RELATIONSHIP OF THE ELEMENTS TO ONE ANOTHER or THE SCENES TO ONE ANOTHER.
- The dream is primarily for & about "the dreamer".
- The various scenes in the dream are all related to a single "overriding theme or meaning".
- You do not attempt interpretation first but rather you fully understand each scene in the dream as received.
- Note any clear or strange departures from reality
- Note all clear depictions of reality. In other words the dream needs to be clearly depicted for "WHAT IT IS" whether it shows reality or shows fiction or fantasy.
- You then look at each individual scene interpreting the scene both literally as well as through the lens of possible meaning for each symbol in the dream.
- You then make your "best shot" at interpretation of that scene keeping in mind it's primarily about the dreamer. You do this attempt at "interpretation" of the scene apart from how it might be interpreted were you to combine all the scenes for the sake of interpretation.
- Interpret the dream as a whole, taking into account what all the scenes of the dream are saying about the dreamer.
- If done properly, the explanation of the interpretation will make total sense to anyone who has read the dream.
Jordan Seng in his book, "Miracle Work" mentioned, "I find it helpful to consider the overall theme of the dream before I attempt to crack any one symbol, since if I get a sense for the theme, the symbols become easier to crack." So rather than a "bottom-up" approach as outlined above where the possibilities for each dream symbol are listed, Brother Seng takes a "top-down" approach to a dream where he considers an "overall theme" first.
But the problem with looking at a dream "top down" for an "overall theme" first, is it can lead a person to pick a wrong alternative for a symbol, or worse yet, to force a bad interpretation on a symbol, which can accidentally turn a dream interpretation upside-down.
Sometimes puns or metaphors are used in dreams.
I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.
- Hosea 12:10
A similitude, is a spiritual story that uses symbols to illustrate a point, so dreams and visions are supposed to have symbols that need deciphering.
For example in Jeremiah 1:11-12 : “almond tree” in Hebrew sounds like “watching” so the image of an almond tree explains how God is
Per Genesis 40:8 which says, “Don’t interpretations belong to God?” as we humble ourselves before God and his Word the Bible, and we rigorously filter each symbol in a dream through the lens of the Bible, we take part in a back and forth conversation with God, where the symbols in a dream are all interpreted so that the symbols in each scene make sense, and then so the scenes put together make sense for an overall interpretation from either God, or from Satan.
Sometimes Christians get a dream from God telling them what rotten un-Christian character they have, and they say, "That's not from God!" They forget Hebrews 12:9-12 saying ...
Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? For they indeed, for a few days, punished us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. All chastening seems for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised thereby. Therefore lift up the hands that hang down and the feeble knees ...
Therefore a dream can be either of the following ...
- From God
- From Satan
- given to the Christian, trying to trick the Christian into thinking it's from God, so that the Christian goes into error, sin, cursing, or death
- giving plans of action or promises of blessing to the Satanist
- In 1 Samuel 28 King Saul consults a medium which is forbidden in the Law of Moses since they bring up demons who imitate dead people, and not the actual people. Saul asks to talk to Samuel, and the demon impersonating Samuel prophesies only death and doom to Saul, with no chance of redemption, which results in Saul's death. In contrast, as long as we are living on the earth Father God offers us life or death, blessing or cursing, etc.
... and we use the Bible as a magnifying lens to figure out which.
I invite you to click on the PDF below, for a solid teaching on dreams, and their interpretation.
Finally, if you're serious about learning to interpret dreams, study many examples of metaphors, puns, and idioms.
- updated 07/18/2021
- The Bible, 1 Samuel 28, Deuteronomy 28, etc
- Personal interviews with Richard Keltner of Watchmen Radio
- Personal interviews with Thomas Gordon Heward
- This writeup from CornerStoneDeliveranceChurch.com
- Jordan Seng, "Miracle Work"
- Smith Wigglesworth, "Ever Increasing Faith", Chapter 16
- In the Spirit Dreams, Pat Martinez
@PrayingMedic on Twitter discusses the Dreams from God he has had