“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams,your young men shall see visions. Joel 2:28 (NKJV)
I’ve always had a fascination with the stories of Daniel and Joseph. They had the unique ability to interpret the strangest of dreams and their gift brought them before the kings of their land. These dreams were direct communications from God that brought both instructions and warnings intended to benefit everyone in their entire kingdom.
Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation. Daniel 5:12 (NKJV)
My curiosity peaked one day three years ago when a friend of mine told me about a very vivid dream she had which didn’t make a lot of sense but couldn’t be ignored. I knew when I heard it that this was a dream with some type of spiritual significance. I tried hard to understand what it may have meant but was totally at a loss for how anyone could ever understand such dreams.
Several weeks after hearing about this dream, I was able to find a variety of dream interpretation books on the shelves of a Christian bookstore. This was a completely foreign subject to me. I was used to buying Christian books that did not deal with the spiritual realm at all. I grew up and spent decades of my life in “cessationist” churches which outright rejected anything supernatural, even denying and rationalizing away the clear words of supernatural miracles found right in the Bible! Fortunately, my curiosity overwhelmed the faulty religious training I had received for many years and I moved forward looking for answers to my questions. After searching through maybe six books, I decided on two of them by different authors so I could get a variety of perspectives on this topic. One thing I learned from a career in analytical thinking, when you are trying to figure out something new, you need to hear from more than one source. The first book I read was by Dr Joe Ibojie, Illustrated Dictionary of Dream Symbols: A Biblical Guide to Your Dreams and Visions. What was most interesting in this book was the long list of common symbols found in dreams and what they meant. Because this was so new to me, I couldn’t figure out how anyone could come up with such a list but it was very interesting nonetheless. The second book I read was by Perry Stone, How to Interpret Dreams and Visions. My entire life abruptly changed when I read how he had a dream of the 9/11 terrorist attacks five years before they happened! I’ll talk more in a later post about how this book launched me out of academic-only “dead religion” and into what the Bible says is normal. These two books began my study into Bible-based dream interpretation. A couple years after reading these, I watched an interview with a lady from Nashville who spoke about this same topic and had a new book published which also included a list of dream symbols. In Seeing the Voice of God, Laura Harris Smith really helped bring me to a new level of understanding how at times, God switches his means of communication to us and how we need to rely on the Holy Spirit, not our intellect, to discern what He is saying. My personal recommendation here, I would highly suggest starting with her book after you see her interview at the link above.
Beginning to Understand
Over the last three years since beginning my new area of study, I have received many dreams which have all contained a full array of strange symbols. Most of my dreams have either dealt with events going on in my life at the time or prophetic messages about my future. Some of these prophetic dreams have been fulfilled and others I’m still waiting on. In all cases, they are filled with symbology. Why are they not straightforward and literal? Because God nearly always speaks to us in a way that bypasses our intellect. Our brain and logical thinking filters out many things, especially anything of the supernatural realm, which is where God dwells. He is trying to get us to move beyond the limits of our intellect and see things that cannot be seen in the natural realm. This is where faith is required.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV)
In the process of studying the symbols and praying for understanding, I have been able to make progress in sorting out what some of my dreams mean. Let me reiterate that the primary source of interpretation comes from the Holy Spirit. You must pray and ask for understanding and then expect to receive an answer in due time. I have not always received an immediate understanding but there have been times when I’ve waited several months before I got it. Other times, I got the general idea within a week. A huge key to learning to understand these is to write them down.
Write Them Down!
Many times a dream is “layered” or multidimensional. Sometimes you may receive a series of dreams over a period of time that are connected. There may be a time element in the symbology which you need to understand. There may be situations going on in your life that are directly tied to a dream. Remembering when you received a dream will be important several months later, long after you forgot when you had it. Trust me on this, I have neglected to do this at times and eight months or so later, I couldn’t remember when a dream occurred in relation to certain events several months back. Just recently, I picked up a fourth book by yet a different author. Dream Encounters, Seeing Your Destiny from God’s Perspective, by Barbie Breathitt, is a great resource to help understand how dreams can be a prophetic message about your future. She gives examples of many people who have seen solutions to job situations in their dreams, including the professional golfer, Jack Nicholaus. Barbie also discusses how you can see that symbols will be of personal significance to you and she lays out a logical process for taking apart your dream to get from the big picture down to the details. Out of all the books I’ve mentioned here, this book makes the best case for how we Western-thinking people mostly tend to discount or belittle such a concept as our dreams having any significance. The purpose of this post is not to give a full discussion about dream interpretation nor to make anyone an expert. I’m just trying to give you a basic level of understanding that dreams many times DO have significance and you should not ignore them. Take a look at either of the above four books and you will find much more elaboration on these topics.
This is a topic with a steep learning curve and there is at least one ministry that does not allow anyone on their team to interpret anyone’s dreams until they’ve had five years of experience. I’ve got about three years now myself so I’m still in the novice stage. If you’re still wondering about “all this stuff”, remember that symbology is all over the Bible. Just like in the natural world, the most valuable minerals are not just laying around on the surface. Gold, diamonds and platinum all require an expensive effort and time to dig out. Remember the parables Jesus taught, or the visions of Ezekiel, Zechariah or John on the Isle of Patmos; symbology is everywhere and that includes dreams that come from God. We will never progress beyond an elementary level understanding of the Bible without sufficient knowledge of the symbols and purpose behind them. Remember this verse; it is a core foundational principle behind nearly everything contained in the Bible:
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. (Proverbs 25:2 NKJV)
Start paying attention to those weird dreams that you occasionally get. Write them down and check out the references above. You’ll begin to see some of these are a message from God designed for your good. Exercise your faith and step beyond the limits of your natural intellect. Not to mention, with the state the world is in right now, this is a great time for a Daniel or Joseph to know how to get real solutions by divine wisdom in a dream.