Friday, April 13, 2012

Dream on: Christian Dream Interpretation

A few months ago i was at Wal Mart, itself a horrifying experience, when i noticed a book that added to my already yucky feeling. In the Christian books was a book by Perry Stone about "Christian" dream interpretation.

I looked at it, and on the whole it seemed to be quite New Agey. So much in fact, that it reminded me of when I was trying to develop "psychic powers" and trying to force myself to dream about the future. I used to try to practice lucid dreaming (controlling your dreams) and i would focus on certain things before sleeping. Or i would try to meditate so i could absorb chi/universal energy/the Force. I wanted to know what to do with my life, etc., etc. and looked to dreams for the answer, thinking perhaps God may tell me in dreams. It was basically divination through dreams, and that's what many people are looking to do whether they realize it or not.

And dream i did. I even kept a journal and looked up the meaning of certain symbolism in my dreams. Often times, it was a rehash of the days events. Sometimes, I thought the symbols in the dreams could give me insight into life's circumstances. Other times it "felt" prophetic or apocalyptic, but really was not. Even when I dreamt a future event, it wasn't 100% accurate and I wanted to know the future for selfish reasons.

But rather than boring you further by rehashing Perry Stone's book, or all of my weird dreams, i'd like to go over what true Christian dream interpretation should look like. What does the Bible tell us about dreams? What does God want to tell us through our dreams, if anything?

The Bible does talk about dreams. Quite a bit actually. Even more, there does seem to be a consistent manner in which God uses dreams to inform not only His people, but non-believers as well. Modern dream interpretation is self-centered and "what is God going to do for me", but in the Bible it's a different story.

A brief search on Blue Letter Bible turned up that forms of the word "dream" appear 123 times in the Bible. (Do a search for dream*)

Thats kind of alot. But not all of these references are people having prophetic, "thus sayeth the Lord" dreams.

Where do we start? Working from least important to the most, that way you have a reason to stick around.

Firstly, God seems to use dreams to "talk" to His people when there's few other options. The book of Genesis is a place where many people receive God's revelation through dreams. Why is this? Because there was no Bible yet! (At least not written out for people). People couldn't go to the Bible for guidance, and so God chose to reveal information in this way.

In Genesis 20, we see God using a dream to warn Abimalech not to sleep with Sarah. Now, we have the Bible to tell us not to commit adultery. (There were other factors i suspect which will come up later).

Genesis 31 - seems to be dealing with just wages, later expounded on in scripture.

This may be one reason why, on the whole at least, God doesn't use dreams in the "developed" world to communicate with us. While on the other hand, there are reports from the Muslim world of folks dreaming of Jesus. But even those dreams should be viewed carefully, especially in light of 1 John 4:1 (testing the spirits) and the below articles.

And John Piper's stance for what that's worth.

In our modern world, we have the Bible and we have believers to spread God's Good News and His Word so dreams should be a "last resort", but that is not to restrict God. Just a caution.

Second, and sort of tied in with the first, God used dreams in the Bible to direct people in specific situations-situations that would accomplish establishing His people and plan for salvation through Jesus Christ, faith and heartfelt repentence.

Genesis 28 - deals with God telling Jacob that He would give him (and his descendants) he land he was on.

Genesis 37, 40, 41, - God seems to be revealing through Joseph that he and his brothers would play a critical role in establishing the Jewish people.

It also revealed the future. But this revelation of the future appears to be multi-faceted. There's the obvious that God revealed the future in dreams (to Joseph and several gentiles) so that Joseph would be in a position to help establish the Jewish people. Second, it revealed God's power over people and those in power. It also demonstrates that God is in charge of circumstances.

Judges 7 - God prophesied in a dream that Gideon would gain victory over Israel's enemy.

Daniel 4 - Nebuchadnezzer's tree dream, warning him that if he didn't repent and humble himself to God, he would go crazy. After he went crazy he was given a chance to repent and be restored. The dream seems to have been sent to demonstrate God's mercy.

David Guzik has an interesting look at it with prophetic implications.

The third and probably most important aspect of dreams as a form of prophecy is that they foreshadow the coming of Jesus Christ, provide some sort of revelation (during Biblical times only) about Him and His safety.

Foreshadowing Jesus Christ

Genesis 28 - full of symbolism. The ladder to Heaven, the stone that will be God's house.
Genesis 40 - the cup bearer and the baker (bread and wine) foreshadow Christ's body and blood. That's more of a Chuck Missler look, but it could work.

Daniel - 2 Nebuchadnezzer's dream does predict the future of the "World" empires, but only because they will be supplanted by God's kingdom set up by His Son Jesus Christ.

Daniel 7 - also predicts the World empires and God's ultimate victory over them.

About Jesus Christ (directly, not alluded to in the Old Testament)

Matthew 1 - Joseph is told that Mary was pregnant with Jesus, by way of the Holy Spirit and was still a virgin.

Matthew 2 - the magi are warned in a dream not to report their findings of Jesus to Herod. Joseph was warned in a dream to go into Egypt, and told in another dream to go back.

Matthew 27 - Pilates wife had a dream(s) indicating Jesus' innocence and that Pilate should have nothing to do with Him.

We have seen that God used dreams in the Bible to direct people when His Word (the Bible) was not available. And when He did do that, it was to help establish His people and His plan of salvation through that people. It was also to help foreshadow the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Lastly, we see a dream used to bring a king to repentence (and possibly serve as a greater model of something else.) In other words, when God did used dreams, He had a very clear agenda.

That should be quite enough to give us a decent understanding of what Christian dream interpretation should look like. But for anyone looking for further guidelines about interpeting dreams the TORAH outlines how to do so. But be warned, this was as a guide for the prophets (whose job it was to prophesy about Jesus, and convict Israel of its sin. The same motivation for the dreams above more or less.)

Oh, and anything less than 100% accuracy was a death sentence. Literally.

Numbers 12, and Deuteronomy 13 - God gives guidelines for prophets and prophetic dreams.

Joel 2 - that people would have dreams and visions. (Fulfilled in Acts 2:17)

I believe that we are not to actively seek to use dreams as a way of discerning God's will. It is not a tool for us to predict the future. We can see in the Bible that God is the one to send prophetic dreams, not for us to seek out. He will initiate it, we are not to initiate "prophetic" dreams.

If we do have a prophetic dream, it should first of all be perfectly clear to us or someone that God has ordained (the body analogy) to interpret. It shouldn't rely on bizarre or vague Jungian (New Age) symbolism.

Furthermore, the dream should bring about repentance of sin, or serve to spread the Gospel and glorify Jesus Christ. If you encounter a being, or even Jesus in a dream, don't be afraid to test the spirits (1 Joh 4:1) if it's really Jesus, He'll be happy you're obeying His Word!

So, stop looking to dreams and symbolism in them for direction in your life, go to God in prayer and repentence. If He sends you a dream, it will be without a doubt Christ honoring or used to lead you or someone else to repentence and faith in Jesus Christ. It will also be perfectly clear, and if it's prophetic, it will be 100% correct. If the dream is not from God and involves fallen spirits, call on Jesus Christ, and He will save you. He has saved me from demons in dreams more than I would like.

God can and does use dreams to tell us things, but His Word and prayer through His Son Jesus Christ is the preferred route. God will ordain the dreams.


  1. I was sleeping and a demon was at the end of my bed sufficating and paralizing me. I couldnt speak (couldnt break) and i started praying in my head over and over again and i slowly was able to breath and pray out loud more and more and the demon left

    1. thanks for sharing Lorin.

      my question is, did you call on Jesus Christ to deliver you? Faith in Him is the only way to get it to stop right away. Only He can save you from these attacks, and only if you know Him.

  2. ^^ When I was first saved I experienced this kind of thing. I would cry out Jesus name in my head if I could not speak in the dream, and it stopped. At one point though I started having very vivid dreams in which demons would grab me, hold me down and stuff cloth or something else in my mouth so that I couldn't speak! I got so I hated the idea of going to sleep (this happened every night for a week). FInally I was so desperate, I got on my knees and started crying out to God (I prayed in tongues because I didn't know what to pray and as I said, I was despersate). The Holy Spirit interrupted my praying and said "Clean House". I knew what that meant from my understanding of spiritual warfare. There was something in my house giving the enemy the right to mess with me. I went through the house praying, asking the Lord to show me what I needed to get rid of. I couldnt't believe how much evil stuff was in my house! I had somehow been blind to the fact that I had a statue of venus de milo (false goddess), a jewelry box with cupid (Greek 'god' Eros) on it, a tapestry with animals all over it that happened to have women praying to another woman on it.. etc. I literally had just never seen the Eros or the tapestry false goddess, and it had never dawned on my that my statue of Venus was a false goddess idol. I got rid of them all (burned, broke etc), anointed my windows and doors, and told the demons to get out in the Name of Jesus. From that point forward I had no more of those harrassing dreams.

  3. Yea.. I saw an ad for Perry Stone's book, and immediately was suspicious. When I read descriptions of it, it sounded very New Agey to me too. We can't take certain object in dreams and assume a) that all our dreams are from God or b) that every object in the dream has a meaning, or a set meaning etc.

    I have had a few dreams from God, but they were CLEARLY not normal dreams, and they were very vivid. One I knew the meaning of right away. It was for my brother, and was a warning to him to stay away from even the edges of places where he might be tempted to do drugs. He sadly got lured into someone's garage (he was trying to stay away from people who did drugs so he would not be tempted) He ended up being tempted as a result. He had thought if he didn't go into someone's house, it would be fine.. but ended up missing the point, that the garage was the 'edge'.. ie it didn't appear to be a danger, but was still too close

    The second dream was followed by God speaking to me audibly after I tried to understand the dream with my own logic ( I was way off) But even after I heard Him speak, I still tried to understand on my own. Why I didn't ask for clarification, I still don't know, lol. Anyways, after several months of not thinking about it ( and thinking I already understood) The Lord spoke to me via a very supernatural occurrence while I was reading the Bible.. This time He spoke everything in detail and left nothing to chance. The things He told me turned out to be prophetic, and have since come to pass.

    In neither of these cases though was I ever seeking a dream. I usually don't dream at all, or when I do, they are hazy , fragmented, and fall apart almost as soon as I wake. If anything I may remember one thing out of a whole dream. But when God gives me a dream it is totally different. But one thing I have learned, and I believe this is biblical as well...
    We should never lean on our own understanding when God gives a dream or vision. Always pray for understanding. All the examples in the Bible are either clear as to their meaning, the person knows what it means from God immediately, or the person (like Daniel) prays about it, and God clarifies and gives understanding. Never is it where all imagery represents something and you simply assume all objects in your dreams are communication or that all objects/imagery has a meaning.

    There is a warning given in the scriptures over and over again.. God keeps telling the israelites to not follow "the imaginations of your heart" I think it is safe to say that pagan ways of interpreting dreams/omens etc are forbidden to us for a reason. Lucid dreaming, visualization etc etc., and use of symbology for dream interpretation are Divination & occult.
    Sorry if I rambled, said too much, or too little. I'm tired, ..but I have a habit of putting in my two cents worth, lol. Blessings!