I was recently passing the time in a waiting room when the topic of dreams came up. The woman told me her dream and then analyzed it herself explaining how it fit into a current situation in her life. The problem with her interpretation was that the message was clearly prophetic and dealt with a future which she herself couldn’t possibly know. Last I checked, we humans, awesome creatures that we are, are not omniscient.
This encounter brings up the topic of where dreams come from, which I believe is a significant issue when it comes to understanding our dreams.
Where dreams come from- the most relevant question asked concerning dream interpretation because this speaks to the supernatural and accuracy questions.
It’s widely agreed that the dreams and visions originate from either a human or a spiritual source.
Human sources include the body and the soul (sometimes referred to as the heart), while spiritual sources include good and evil informers.Tertullian of Carthage (160-225 AD), a well-educated and competent lawyer, church scholar, and author, categorized his dreams as 1) soul originated, 2) demoniacally originated, and 3) and from God. He wrote, “But all those visions that are honest, holy, prophetic, inspired, instructive, and inviting to virtue must be regarded as emanating from God, for He has promised indeed to pour out the grace of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh.”
Why is this important?
Determining the origin of a dream is critical, and here’s one reason why. If a dream is springing up from the soul, the information contained is limited and may be incorrect. We do not have access in our souls to the future, for instance, or what’s contained in another person’s heart. If a dream is coming from our own soul, it may or may not provide beneficial information.
But if a dream is coming from a spiritual source, it may contain information that can only be known supernaturally. If the creator of the universe is talking to you, you might want to listen! Interpreting these dreams is like reading a letter sent from God. You are getting information from the one who knows all! I can’t emphasize this point strongly enough. I have had numerous warning dreams that I didn’t take seriously or didn’t respond to correctly. Other dreams have provided supernatural insight that, when heeded, made all the difference.
On the other hand, if, rather than God, a spiritual enemy is speaking, you can expect lies and attempts to incite feelings such as fear, guilt, or confusion.
The Old Testament reveals dream activity starting in Job (the oldest book) with dreams and visions common throughout its pages. The life of Jesus was bracketed by dreams, and the Bible ends with an entire book based on visions. Biblical passages speak of dreams from the soul, Isaiah 29:8, but mostly dreams and visions from the Lord, Numbers 12: 5-6, Acts 2:17-19.
So in interpreting a dream, the absolute first priority is determining where the dream came from. And doing this may not be easy.
Six Guidelines to Help Determine if a Dream is from God
1. The Message
The most important key is the bottom line, the message. The challenge is that the dream has to be interpreted before a message is revealed. Genesis 40: 8 records Joseph saying, “Do not interpretations come from God?” So it’s a good idea to first ask for insight into the meaning of the dream.
After prayer, use wisdom and understanding. Daniel 5:12 tells us that the use of our minds may be connected with gaining an interpretation, “Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems.”
Once you feel you have an interpretation, ask yourself if it’s consistent with the character and word of God. You can only be sure about that by being familiar with the scripture and by knowing God personally through your walk with Him.
Below are some guidelines to assist you in using your mind, knowledge, and understanding to solve the riddle.
2. Parabolic Elements
God’s favorite language is Parable. Jesus used this method extensively to communicate ideas.
The Wise and Foolish Virgins‒ Matthew 7:24-27
The Parable of the Sower‒ Matthew 13:3-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:5-15
The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares‒ Matthew 13:24-30
The Parable of the Mustard Seed‒ Matthew 13:31-32; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19
The Leaven‒ Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20-21
The Hidden Treasure‒ Matthew 13:44
The Pearl‒ Matthew 13:45-46
Drawing in the Net‒ Matthew 13:47-50
The Parable of the Lost Sheep‒ Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:1-7
The Unmerciful Servant‒ Matthew 18:23-35
Laborers in the Vineyard‒ Matthew 20:1-16
The Parable of the Two Sons‒ Matthew 21:28-32
The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen‒ Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19
The Parable of the Wedding Feast‒ Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 14:16-24
The Fig Tree‒ Matthew 24:32-36; Mark 13:28-32; Luke 21:29-33
The Parable of the Ten Virgins‒ Matthew 25:1-13
The Parable of the Talents‒ Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27
The Seed Growing Secretly‒ Mark 4:26-29
The Two Debtors‒ Luke 7:41-47
The Good Samaritan‒ Luke 10:30-37
The Friend at Night‒ Luke 11:5-8
The Rich Fool‒ Luke 12:16-21
The Faithful Servant‒ Luke 12:35-48
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree‒ Luke 13:6-9
The Guests‒ Luke 14:7-15
Building a Tower and Waging War‒ Luke 14:28-33
Lost Money‒ Luke 15:8-10
The Parable of the Prodigal Son‒ Luke 15:11-32
The Parable of the Dishonest Steward‒ Luke 16:1-9
The Rich Man and Lazarus‒ Luke 16:19-31
The Master and the Servant‒ Luke 17:7-10
The Parable of the Widow and the Judge‒ Luke 18:1-8
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican‒ Luke 18:9-14
The Old Testament is filled with parables and metaphors as well.
Below is a sampling of the references for Old Testament parables. Metaphors are so numerous, it would take an entire volume to list and explain them.
Judges 9:8-15; 2
-To decode your dream parabolically, first, look at parabolic simplicity. If the dream is rather simple with only a few elements you can list, there might be an obvious message once you discern the symbolism.
-Second, look for parabolic remoteness. If you haven’t been in contact with these elements lately and they are not fresh on your mind; that might indicate the dream is parabolic. Suppose you dream of escaping from Russia or from jail, and you haven’t been exposed to those in months- not in a movie, on TV, on the Internet, or in a classroom. It might mean that the dream is parabolic.
-Last, parabolic symbolism. If you can get a sense of the hidden meanings of the elements in your dream, and when you put those meanings together, it makes a statement; this dream might be from God.
Example: I recently dreamed that my brother was grinning as he showed me his stack of $100 dollar bills. But I knew they were counterfeit. Parabolic/symbolic message: the money my brother is shortly inheriting will be of no use to him. It will be worthless to him.
This has to do with recall (the stickiness of the dream). How much of an impression did it leave? Do you keep getting flashbacks? Can you consistently still see the dream in your mind’s eye after weeks, months, or years? Is it ominous or disturbing? Dreams which greatly stick with you are generally from a spiritual source, often God.
4. Illumination & Vividness
Unless there is a good reason, dreams from the Creator will resemble his creation. Well-illuminated dreams with realistic colors and vivid images are may be heaven sent.
Most people believe that physical things such as sickness, alcohol, drugs, and medication may influence the content of dreams… even foods. Ever heard of a pizza dream?
There also may be spiritual interference. We go into this in our courses.
The atmosphere in a dream refers to the environment, whether it feels good, neutral or evil. Did it feel creepy? This may be difficult to discern because a dream can be about evil without originating from evil. A negative theme doesn’t mean the dream is from hell. Also, the dreamer’s responses within the dream (such as anger or fear) may or may not indicate the source of a dream. Be careful with this one.
A person’s state of mind can also make a difference as well as location and contact with evil.
Above are some guidelines in determining where a dream is origination from, but don’t discount your own instincts or discernment. Writing down the dream, meditating on it, and praying for insight can be extremely helpful. Keep in mind also that interpretation may come in a variety of ways and sometimes only at the point you need it.