[Course 32 Index] [Prophetic-School Index] [Mini-Series Index] [Prev Lesson]
In our last lesson, we examined what the Bible had to say about dream interpretation. We found that most of the dreams in the Bible did not require anyone to interpret them. Most of the time, God communicated literally (not symbolically) in the dream. An example would be an angel appearing in a dream to Joseph and telling him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. At times God used symbolic dreams, but when He did, the dreamer usually understood the symbols and meaning without any outside help. An example would be the symbolism of sun, moon and eleven stars bowing down to Joseph. His family immediately understood that the sun was Joseph's father Jacob, the moon his mother and the eleven stars were his eleven brothers -- and they were offended at Joseph's dream because he was the baby of the family.
There were only five times in the Bible when God spoke to people through symbolic dreams and then used a prophet to interpret that dream:
In all five cases, the person who needed the dream interpreted was an unbeliever; someone who had no relationship with God and who was therefore incapable of recognizing His voice.
We looked at most of the verses that refer to dreams in our last lesson. But there are another seven verses that do not pertain to dream interpretation. Let's look at them for completeness. We will divide them into two categories: things God says about dreams and things man says about dreams.
1. God's Other Comments On Dreams In The Bible
God says that the prophetic and dreams are a manifestation of His Spirit on His people in Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17. Joel 2:28 says, "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." Acts 2:17 says almost the same exact thing: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams." The dreams in this passage are equated to the prophetic, and there is no indication that they are hard to understand and require outside interpretation. I think this passage is saying that God will speak clearly to old men through dreams.
God also makes a casual reference to nightmares in Isaiah 29:6-8. He is referring to them as not real or satisfying, but is a fleeting satisfaction that goes away when you wake up. (This passage does not appear to have anything to do with God communicating to people in dreams.)
2. Man's Comments On Dreams In The Bible
Job's friends make casual references to Job about dreams in their efforts to persuade them in Job 20:8 and Job 33:15. These references refer to dreams as cryptic, hard to understand, possibly tormenting. These could be a reference to nightmares or demonically inspired dreams.
Solomon offers the theory that a lot of activity causes dreams in Ecclesiastes 5:3. It says, "Or a dream comes through much activity..." And the psalmist uses a nightmare as a simile for God's judgment in Psalm 73:18-20.
None of these verses deal with God speaking to people through dreams or with prophets interpreting the dreams. So we acknowledge that these verses are in the Bible, but they aren't relevant to the topics of God speaking to man through dreams or of dream interpretation.
Conclusions We Might Draw From What The Bible Says About Dreams
There are a lot of discrepancies between dream interpretation in the Bible and the way it is practiced today:
|Only a very small portion of prophetic ministry dealt with dream interpretation.||Dream interpretation has become one of the major focuses of prophetic ministry today.|
|God seldom gave symbolic dreams that needed to be interpreted by someone else.||Popular thinking today is that God gives many cryptic dreams that require interpretation.|
|Most of the time when God spoke to someone in a dream, they understood what He was saying to them without help from someone else.||Many believers today do not know how to hear God's voice and they think they need help from a trained specialist to hear God. They also think that God would not speak directly to them.|
|Only unbelievers were given dreams that required a prophet to interpret or explain them.||Popular teaching is that God speaks in symbolic dreams to both the believers and the unsaved. Those who interpret dreams spend a large portion of their time interpreting dreams for believers.|
|Jesus never interpreted a single dream, but He did prophesy, teach, heal the sick and cast out demons. He also said that we are to do the things He did (John 14:12).||Many believers are more likely to try dream interpretation than other forms of personal or corporate prophesy. And a lot of ministries put a bigger focus on teaching people to interpret dreams than to heal the sick or do the other works that Jesus did.|
So what should we do about these discrepancies? One of the first things we might want to consider is in teaching people to hear God more clearly for themselves instead of teaching them to be dependent on others to hear for them. We can provide tools that they can use to begin learning to hear God's voice. We can start telling them to take their dreams back to God and hear from Him. Some people may need their hands held as they first learn to hear God speak to them about their dreams. Perhaps instead of interpreting dreams for someone, we give that person a list questions to take back to God as they begin to process their dream with Him. We may need to point out what the Bible says on certain things, so they can use that in their process of listening to God.
It also means we need to cut back drastically on how available dream interpretation is to the average believer. When a believer comes to a prophetic person for interpretation, perhaps the prophet should refuse to assist anyone who has not already spent at least a few hours praying and seeking God for understanding of their dream.
It also means that we should throw away all recipes and formulas of dream interpretation. We need to stop depending on lookup books -- at most they should be used very sparingly as more of a place to find hints and questions to ask God about the dream. And we can start requiring that those who interpret dreams hear the interpretations directly from God. It may not be enough just to find out what God is saying about the dream; we should also see if God has a prophetic message He wants to give to the dreamer in addition to the dream itself.
We need to stop teaching people how to interpret dreams and put much more of an emphasis on teaching them how to do the things that Jesus did -- healing, deliverance, prophesy, proclaiming the good news and advancing God's kingdom. Along with that, we should start training the people who use dream interpretation as an evangelism tool to do other power ministry. There are people who try to reach unbelievers by going to public places and setting up dream interpretation booths.
That aspect of dream interpretation (interpreting dreams for nonbelievers) is actually much more Scriptural than the practice of interpreting dreams for believers. But it does not follow the New Testament model that Jesus set up. He told us to do the things He did -- so we need to start training the dream interpretation evangelists to do the things Jesus did when He evangelized. Remember that Jesus did not do dream interpretation. We need to help these evangelists become proficient at healing the sick and setting people free from demonic oppression. They can still occasionally interpret dreams for unbelievers, but let's give them some additional "power tools" to put in their evangelism tool belt! And let's teach them how use them effectively.
We need to put a system in place to transition the prophetic community and believers at large from where we are to where we should be. We can't "cold turkey" cut off those people who depend on dream interpretation ministries. We need to transition them over a period of time from expecting a prophet to interpret their dreams to expecting to hear directly from God. We should not leave things as they are; people will never start to migrate to the Bible model if we don't make changes to move them in that direction. But we need to transition slow over time. One transition approach might be the approach that Prophet D took in interpreting my first dream. This approach was not to fully interpret the dream, but to give ideas and hints on what some of the symbols in the dream are. Then the dreamer needs to prayerfully take those hints back to God to get a better understanding of what He is saying to them in the dream.
Finally, we need to pray and ask God to show us what He is doing in the prophetic. We also need to ask Him how He wants us to do it with Him. We need to make sure that the ministries and outreaches we set up are true reflections of what the Father is doing. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing, and we need to be like Jesus. We need to see what the Father is doing and then to do it with Him in His power and anointing.