This is a question that many sometimes have asked. Sometimes we are uncertain about the messages we receive or read about. How can we truly know when God is speaking through a prophecy, a vision, or a dream?
I usually don’t have prophetic dreams. God speaks to me primarily during the waking hours in a prophecy, vision, word of wisdom, etc. However, many people seem to be having an overabundance of dreams in this hour and I sometimes wonder if they are truly interpreting them correctly.
While I am certainly not an “expert” about dream interpretation, I have taken several lessons through AMI on them and have studied them in depth.
Many of us have dreams. Sometimes these dreams are very vivid and they leave us with the images and sounds that we experienced from them for some time. Dreams can come in many different forms and categories.
An article that would talk about all the dreams we experience would take a long time, but suffice it to say, that there are a myriad of different types of dreams we experience, some of which could be called “prophetic” and some that are just the result of our experiences through the day or week before.
Not every symbol has the same meaning for each person. Someone may dream about a spouse or a father, and it could mean something totally different for another person. When going through the dream, ask the LORD for an interpretation concerning what the different characters mean.
Before someone attempts to interpret someone else’s dream, it becomes vital to know the relationship between the person and the characters in their dream.
It also becomes important to understand that the culture that one lives in influences our interpretation. The LORD used a tablecloth of unclean animals to Peter in the vision that he received.
The enemy can plant dreams that are deception or would come in the form of an attack. If the attack comes during your sleep, be aware of any open doors that you may have kept open that would allow the enemy to creep in.
If indeed, the dream appears to be prophetic in nature, ask yourself if it gives a sense of faith, hope, and love . If you had a dream that a certain person was about to die, consider how they might react to you if you approached them and shared this with them. Obviously, this would be a very unwise thing to do.
There are internal dreams and there are external dreams. In an internal dream you are the person the dream is usually about. You are the center of the show.
Many people who have internal dreams like this, quickly jump and think that the dream concerns a prophetic event in the future, or something about a particular person. These types of dreams are about “you.”
An internal dream will often give you direction in your spiritual life. It functions the same way as a word of knowledge, in that it relates to you those things of the past and present.
An internal dream speaks to your inner spiritual life and will help you know if you have gotten off track or not. It will give you an idea of what state your spirit is in and if there is something lacking in your life. An internal dream could also tell you when you have birthed something new, or have come to a place of promotion.
Internal dreams can also provide direction or warning. There are several instances in scripture where angels were used to warn certain individuals.
Refer to Jacob – Genesis 31:11 “And the angel of God spoke to me in a dream, [saying], Jacob: And I said, Here [am] I,” and Joseph – Matthew 2:19 “But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.”
External dreams almost always concern future events. You are viewing the dream as an outsider; you aren’t in the dream, but are viewing it very much like a panorama of events.
These types of events function very much like the word of wisdom, and one needs to use discernment very carefully when attempting to interpret them correctly.
Daniel is very good example of this type of dream in how his dreams concerned future events. Joseph also interpreted the King of Egypt’s dream and it saved many lives in the process. And even external dreams are often bathed in symbolism and the characters seen in them, may not be the actual ones seen in life.
It is possible to have a dream that has bother external and internal interpretations. We have the account that Daniel gave to King Nebuchadnezzar. The interpretation of the statue had future events implied within it, of various kingdoms that would rise and fall.
But Daniel didn’t tell the king about how he would fall and that his kingdom would be toppled for seven years. Many people err in thinking that their dream has external implications when actually they are internal and apply to themselves.
As a prophet, or prophetic person, any prophetic dreams you receive are important to receiving a revelation through visions, prophecy, sounds, taste or touch. These are simply the type of medium that the LORD has chosen to speak to you at that time; there are many other avenues other than dreams.
But a prophetic dream should be treated like any other revelation that one receives from the LORD. You may be told to keep it secret for a season until the time is right.
There will be a time when the LORD will tell you to speak it forth: Jeremiah 23:8 “The prophet that has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that has my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What [is] the chaff to the wheat? Says the LORD.”
From studying these things, I can tell you that typically when someone has a dream where they are “in the dream,” they are usually the center of attention.
These types of dreams are about the one who is dreaming the dream. If however, someone has a dream and they are an outsider, someone who is being shown a panorama, or a scene in front of them, then this type of dream can certainly be labeled
as “prophetic,” and it external in nature.
Not everything that is seen in the dream is to be taken literally. For example a house is a type of metaphor or a symbol of something else.
A car or a mode of transportation is not simply a car but it represents something else.
Usually a form of transportation represents someone’s ministry or even a job. All types of animals represent something other than the animal also.
Colors also play into being representative of something else as well.
Dreams can come in many different categories. Below are a list of most of them:
Dreams can come from God or the enemy. We can usually tell the difference oftentimes, by the “color” that is in the dream. Usually bright colors may well suggest that a dream comes from God.
Perhaps there is a very “blue” sky in your dream. Maybe the trees are exceptionally “green,” the colors are vivid, bright and alive.
On the other hand, if a dream is overall black and white, then you can probably conclude that it is from the enemy. Maybe God is showing you something that the enemy is planning, or perhaps the dream itself is an attack from the devil.
Pray about it and ask God for His protection.
Maybe someone is shooting at you with a gun or arrows. The arrows may represent harsh words or things said against you. In Psalm 64:3 it says, “Who sharpen their tongues like sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows – bitter words.”
Doors can also represent something of importance in a dream. It depends upon the context of the dream and whether or not the door is open or closed.
If a door is open, it may well mean that there is an opportunity ahead. If the door is closed it could represent the opposite of this. Inner doors in a house can represent something about our boundaries between people and our family.
Snakes can be about deception or “inflated” lies. A bathroom can be going through a process, issues or purging, need for cleansing…. blood can be your generational blood line, blood can represent being washed in the “blood of the lamb,” healing, deliverance and all that Jesus has provided through salvation.
Learn to identify the characters in your dreams. If they are people that you know, then write down your relationship with them. If they weren’t people that you know, then what were the impressions that you had of them?
If you had a good relationship with your earthly father, then this figure may well represent the Lord Himself in your dream. Also, if you had a bad relationship with a certain person, then this figure may well represent your sinful or fleshly nature.
There may be times when you dream about a certain man or a woman in your dreams that you have never seen. This person may represent your masculine or feminine nature. The masculine can represent the intellectual, left-brained part, and the feminine typically represents the prophetic, right-brained side.
A person who is strong in your life that you look up to, can oftentimes represent the Holy Spirit in your dreams. Your relationship is vital when understanding your relationship with them, as you begin to decipher your dreams.
Often our subconscious uses certain people we know to represent certain aspects of our nature in our dreams. A choir director can represent one’s musical abilities.
If you are a prophet and are continually butting heads with a pastor, then he may well represent the status-quo of the church.
There are many categories of objects that one experiences in their dreams. It can be very common to see vehicles in your dreams. These types of things often represent how they “drive” one’s ministry.
A car of vehicle may be broken down, and perhaps you’ve faced some type of damage in your ministry. Likewise, if the LORD Himself is driving the car, then you can be assured that He is in control.
Perhaps you’ve been given new keys to a vehicle in your dreams. This can represent a type of promotion.
If you aren’t certain about the meaning or interpretation of a dream, take it to the LORD and search the word. It is rich with symbolism and imagery. Obviously churches would typically represent a place of worship.
An old church by the side of the road may well represent the status-quo system of the church.
There are a variety of different scenes and places that a person sees and encounters in their dreams. Keep track of these places and note certain characteristics about them.
A house can represent our life and body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Monuments and historical places can represent our past.
You may find yourself running through alleys or dark streets. Typically this represents not having any direction in your life.
Pay attention to see if the scenery leaves you with negative and dark feelings.
Conversely, you may find yourself walking through a beautiful, sunny meadow. The LORD may be revealing to you that you’ve come into a time of rest and peace in your life.
Each of these particular types of scenes may well mean something to you that is different from someone else. Find out if the scenery leaves you with a feeling of something positive or negative.
One oftentimes sees and experiences, different types of creatures in their dreams. Insects such as spiders and other crawling things, oftentimes represent the demonic.
Plants and trees can represent growth or barrenness. Dreaming about giving birth or pregnancy can represent giving birth to new things in your life.
A lion can represent the strength of the LORD, and a lamb can have something to do with innocence and salvation. There are so many different types of animals and creatures, that the list could be endless.
Colors and senses play a vital role in understanding our dreams as well.
Red can speak of the blood of the LORD.
Blue is a heavenly color and black can represent something ominous or evil.
Gold can represent the majesty of the LORD and silver humanity and redemption as seen in the scriptures. However, once again, a person needs to know what each color means and symbolizes to them in order to understand and interpret correctly.
Once a person has made a list of these symbols, then they can begin to journal and write their dreams down often.
Write a summary of these things, and pray for understanding, allowing this to seep into your heart and mind. Don’t try to use the same formula for every dream that you have.
Allow the Holy Spirit to direct you as you pray for understanding. Be open to receiving new visions and dreams that would back-up what you had previously experienced.
But it isn’t enough to just get an interpretation of your dreams without following this up with the word of God and how this substantiates and backs up your dreams.
If the dream is external then receive revelation from the Holy Spirit and the word about what to do with it. Ask for wisdom and receive by faith about what to do with the revelation that has been given to you.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him,” James 1:5.
~ Stephen Hanson
Stephen Hanson of In His Truth Ministries came to the LORD is a special way in 1975 and has prophesied regularly since. In these end-time birthing pangs we are reminded that judgment must first begin with the household of God. Will we be prepared and ready?