DREAMS INTERPRETATION AND SCRIPTURE
CONTEXTUALIZING THE DREAM’S, WE DREAM
Genesis 37:6-8 So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
Josephs dream combines the objective/subjective dream types. It is a dream that is all about him. It is also a dream about others. Let’s draw a few lessons about dream interpretation from our story. A dreamer’s life situations are often the keys to interpreting dream messages. Symbolic meanings draw from life situations.
Context is the primary consideration when we interpret dreams. Interpreting other people’s dreams can be difficult. It is important to remember to use caution in making a mandate out of a dream that someone has dreamed without clear direction from the Lord. One of the essential elements in dream interpretation is the development of a robust prayer-life that is combined with an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. Fostering intimacy with the Holy Spirit and utilizing the gift arsenal that He makes available to us dramatically increases our ability to gain understanding and to get help as we minister through the interpretation of dreams.
Life context is like approaching a traffic light. The color of the light is essential to forward motion and safety when you are driving a car. The colors green, red and yellow all have different meanings at a traffic intersection. Dreams are like traffic lights at times. Prayer and intimate understanding, divine direction, and anointing combine to give us the necessary ingredients for correct interpretation to take place. These rules or suggestions also apply to prophetic words, as there are profound similarities in the way God speaks through dreams and the way prophetic words manifest.
Context rules in helping us see the events that are active in a person’s life at the time of the dream. Context serves as a gap bridge for understanding the images in a dream. Bridges are solid structures. In our modern world, they are usually madeof steel, and they stretch over water, or over gaps in the land.
In dream language a bridge can also be seen in Star Trek, Cruise Ships, a card game, a strip of land connecting two Continents, a pool cue rest, the connection between atoms and molecules, to name a few alternatives. Knowing the other options can help us interpret dreams. We need to learn for added understanding continually. Context rules the language of dreams & language in general. Did the dreamer dream about ropes or planks, financial transactions, replacement teeth, part of your nose, or part of a stringed instrument? All these items can allude to a bridge also.
THE NEED FOR TIME
Often: the answer for understanding a dream comes after we take time and ponder the dream, allowing holy Spirit to utilize words of knowledge and wisdom as points of applied understanding. Daniel 10:12-13 shows us why context is essential to the subjective dreams we dream. Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for, from the first day that you set your heart to understanding, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.
When you interpret someone else’s dream, remember to ask questions. Context and questions often lead to a response. Daniel 2:1-2, 13, 18 also give us principles to consider when interpreting dreams. We see an example of dreaming someone else’s dream in Daniel 2:19. Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. 2 Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. 3 And the king said to them, “I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.” For this reason, the king was angry and very furious and gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. That they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. We are also shown the intent of the heart in Daniel 2:47. The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.”
The nature of Daniel’s Mantic dream resulted in life lessons like exercising caution when choosing friends, seeking other believers’ support, praise & honor are appropriate responses to dreams (to God), and worship is an appropriate response. Inappropriate reactions to dreams can misuse dreams and lead us to neglect their value in our lives. Proper responsesshould yield the fruit of peace and blessing. Repentance and restitution can become necessary responses if the Lord is revealing the hidden dark parts of our heart. Our heart issues can influence responses. Timing can also be a critical component in our response. Is God speaking to me about my yesterday? Is He talking to me about my today’s current events, or could God be talking to me about my future?
Dreams can also be portals of purpose according to Deuteronomy 13:1. If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder. They are a significant method for prophetic communication throughout Scripture. Scripturally, dreams have been used to reveal God’s promises that He wants to apply to our lives, give personal direction, issue warnings, serve to apply His individual dealings with men and to redirect the future. Acts 18:9-10, 27:23show us how the Lord can strengthen our resolve and give us the courage to face tough situations. Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve.
There are important reasons for the usefulness of dreams that help us to see how important dreams are to the biblical narrative of God speaking to man. Prophetic (mantic) dreams often shed light events that have occurred, are occurring or will occur in the future. Dreams have an uncanny ability to open our spirit, as the language and images of dreamstranscend the limitations of our rational thought process. God can quickly and easily bypass any prejudices we may possess, experiences that may inhibit us, overcome our fears, and sidestep any anxiety we may have of what God desires to address.
RESPONDING TO THE DREAMS WE DREAM
Daniel 2:1 Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was sotroubled that his sleep left him.
Remembering or learning that dreams are a lot like prophetic words is always important. They contain fundamentalsimilarities and operate within the same general parameters of conduct. Dreams can be a means to communicate divine messages. The divine communicative application is not the only function of dreams, but when it is the point of a dream, listen. When dreams are mantic, a response on the part of the dreamer is appropriate. The biblical data that we have demonstrates the power of responsiveness. Look at Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 2-4 teaches us invaluable lessons about adequately responding to dreams.
Daniel 1:18-19; 2:31-35, 47; 3:28 are the passages we are going to look at. Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 Then the kinginterviewed them, and among them, all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. you, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor wasexcellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. 32 This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of [l]clay. 34 You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets since you could reveal this secret.” Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel[g] and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Daniel shows us the importance of choosing friends wisely, the need to seek prayer support from others while asking for answers from God, how praising God and releasing glory to the Lord are always good responses to a mantic dream. Friends always worship God for the release of mantic dreams.
THE RELEASE OF THE KINGDOM
An appropriate response to mantic dreams often releases the fruit of peace and opportunities to prosper. Sometimes our dreams can show us that we need to repent from behaviors or sin that are infringing on our intimacy with God. Our hearts should always be open to the Lord, as we do not negative heart issues to block our ability to listen to the hidden voice of God that is heard in our dreams. The Lord can restore us from our stumbling and self-control. God can position us to receive a promotion when we rightly respond to Him. Therefore learning to listen is essential. We never want to miss a “word for the moment.” As in most things in life, timing can be crucial in our responses. I offer the proper response format of worship and praise, as there are inappropriate responses to the prophetic portal of our dream life. We can misuse dreams. Inappropriate responses or non-responses can be devastatingly crucial to our path that we walk on with the Lord.
The Bible must be our primary source of information and inspiration when we look at our dreams, as the Bible gives the framework for our faith in every area of our lives as followers of Jesus. The Bible is our source of knowledge and understanding of God’s ways of living, reacting, and communicating. When we endeavor to walk in His ways, God helps us avoid the pitfalls of inappropriate responses to prophetic dreams.
DANGEROUS GROUND IN DREAM INTERPRETATION
The greatest danger that we face with dreams is like a significant hermeneutical problem. Mantic dreams are subjected to the same rulebook as biblical interpretation. Improper interpretation leads to false conclusions. As much as we don’t like to think about this fact, interpreting Scripture can be a fuzzy science. The same goes for interpreting dreams. We can be erroneous in our understanding dreams just like we can be in error in other areas of our God activities. This is especially true when our beliefs become agenda driven. The danger of an agenda-driven hermeneutic can lead us to disregard the foundational components of proper understanding like the misuse of the word ekklesia by some teachers in the body of Christ.
Romans 8:1shows us the heart of God when it comes to His communicative platform, There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who[a] do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.God is not into condemnation. Our theology should never be one that fosters condemnation, and our interpretation of dreams should never bring condemnation. Dreams are meant to inform with the intention of bringing the blessing of the Lord into our lives, even when God moves to correct us as He speaks to us in our dreams.
Some of the interpretive pitfalls that we need to avoid include never refer as right something that is unscriptural. Dream interpretation has no room for lousy theology or the excusing of sinful behavior. Our definition must comply with the Word of God. Daniel 10:12 shows us that when we get the content of mantic dreams right there is no need for fear, then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. When there are things that God sees as being vital for us to know, we need to believe that God will make sure we understand what He wants to be recognized. Dreams can draw us closer to Him and not drive us away from the Lord.
KNOWING A DREAMS PLACE OF IMPORTANCE
Ecclesiastes 5:3 gives us a different view of our dream life. It shows us that dreams can be frivolous and unimportant as a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words. It is important to remember that we should not spend time or effort on wrong dreams. When we learn how to interpret dreams, time and experience become our allies. The more we do it, the better we can become at the practice. Our experiences help us to discern what is insignificant, just as it assists us in discerning what is significant. It also helps us to remind ourselves that God teaches us the order and structure of the Kingdom. Dreams that appear to be mantic but don’t exemplify the scope and nature of His Kingdom need to be disposed of quickly. Another point is to don’t overly complicate the process of interpreting a dream.
BASIC HERMENEUTICAL RULEAPPLY TO DREAM INTERPRETATION
Overcomplication can lend itself to clouded understanding. The old KISS rule reigns. Keep it, simple student. A literalinterpretation of Scripture is an essential tenet. However, when we say that we interpret the Scriptures, we need to define what we mean carefully. The need for simple interpretive tools and the problem of complicated scenarios is seen in Dispensationalism.
Dispensationalists claim to believe that the literal interpretation of the Bible is the best hermeneutical approach for exegeting Scripture. A strict interpretation grants word equivalency, holding everyday usage as the best way to view Scripture. Parables, symbols, figures of speech, types, allegories, and poetry are attached to a different standard for interpretation. The study of literary genres is also an essential consideration for understanding how to understand the bible. It is a misunderstanding to attach literalism to symbols and figurative sayings. Dispensationalists who do so err.
Understanding the prophetic nature of certain passages of Scripture gives us the importance of the literal approach to interpreting Scripture. A standardized understanding of hermeneutics from a strict perspective grants a certitude in understanding the Bible without standardized rules for interpretation and application. Literalism is important. For the proper implementation of communication, we need to attach universal meaning to words. This is true in modern times, and it was true in biblical times. Language is based on clear communication. Words have meaning, as do types of linguistic structures. Suppose you are reading a metaphor of exaggerated statement for effect but restrict your interpretive model to the literal aspects of what you are seeing or reading. In that case, you will wind up in error.
As the Bible is God’s message, biblical language and understanding the linguistic constraints of the Bible is critically important. This is especially true when biblical prophecies are examined. God used people to record prophetic Scriptures that would be applied to the Christ event. These prophecies needed to be fulfilled, and the people who witnessed their fulfillment were required to recognize what was transpiring. The life of Jesus was foretold by literal prophecies by the Prophets of Israel. We cannot be ambiguous in our understanding of these divine words, as they are the basis of God’s plan of salvation for humanity and His restoration purposes.
Dreams can over-emphasize points as they are not restricted to the standard rules of our environment, like gravity. Thiscan be seen in the subject of death. Death in a dream usually means harm or danger, not imminent death. Repetition often serves as a means of emphasis. Ropes and planks, financial transactions, replacement teeth, part of your nose, or a part of a stringed instrument can take us back to the bridge. When interpreting a dream, avoid acting too quickly and getting caught up in confusing elements of a dream. If the area is something you don’t understand, yet understanding is necessary, trust that God will grant you understanding when you need to know what it means. Always avoid pride, and don’t let getting too logical dominate your thought process, as logic can impede the proper interpretation of a dream.
THE PURPOSE OF DREAMS
Dreams and the interpretation of dreams are not as complicated as we often make them out to be. There are only two significant categories of dreams. Dreams are either a (1) message or (2) miscellaneous. When we understand the restrictions on classes, we are freed from many potential rabbit trails and non-essential applications as we seek out the truth and the fullest appreciation of what is being communicated when the dream is mantic.
The best skill a novice in dream interpretation can learn is the craft of ignoring frivolous dreams, in my opinion. Thismeans we distinguish between message-oriented mantic dreams and miscellaneous ones. Also, it is important to realize that there is a difference between the two types of dreams. Skill in separating the two kinds of dreams comes through experience and evaluation as we gather our understanding of how dreams work.
Miscellaneous dreams exist in the natural functions of our brain. They are caused by the firing of neurons, the mixing of chemicals, and they follow the creative role of God in our natural environment. Egocentric dreams are natural and serve as a sorting or filing system for the information and events we encounter throughout our lives. The procedure of dreaming and our brain functionality are complex and fascinating, as they demonstrate the complexity and the simplicity of God’s creativity. As dreams are a natural part of the creative order, everyone has dreams.
THE DANGER OF NOT DREAMING
Science has shown us that when dreams are prevented from happening, the deprivation of dreams can be dangerous to our well-being. When a person cannot dream from a lack of sleep for just two days, signs of mental fatigue and the beginning of a nervous breakdown occurs. Sleep-induced dreams work as a psychological filing system or like a computer’s defragmentation system. It puts things for retrieval and utilization. Although some people confuse ego-centered dreams as originating from God and given by God for clarity or direction, they are not mantic. Therefore, they are not a form of direct communication from God. But they can provide clarity or guidance for the natural order of life. Confusing the source of our dreams can lead to frustration, even causing us to disregard the value of dreams altogether. This is a grave mistake, as dreams are essential to personal well-being, regardless of whether they are mantic or miscellaneous in origin. You can almost say that dreams serve as personal helpers that aid us in our spiritual walks with the Lord and our pursuit of stable mental health.
OTHER AFFECTIVE ELEMENTS
As I said before, natural dreams are a reaction in our bodies to chemicals, which are a mixture of compounds. Miscellaneous dreams are limited to the carnal plane of existence, whereas mantic dreams become transcendent. Natural dreams can be affected by naturally occurring external and internal forces like sickness. When we are sick, and we are fighting infections through fever, our dream life will change based on our condition. Most of us have experienced the strange and esoteric dreams that are induced by being ill. That type of dream is an expression of the physical conflict our body is being subjected to as we stave off the illness. Pregnancy and monthly hormonal cycles can also adversely affect the clarity and profundity of our dreams.
Our dream life can also be affected by other outside stimuli like medication, drugs, and alcohol. These external influencers alter how we perceive reality to varying degrees based on potency and amount. Mind-altering substances will profoundly impact the type and quality of your dreams. They can produce nightmares, esoteric dreams, and nonsensical, confusing dreams. Hormonal reactions can naturally induce sexual and seductive dreams, and they can have a third source of inspiration that we have not addressed.
Sensuous dreams can be demonic and serve as a warning that there is an open gateway that needs to be shut. Demonic intrusion and activity happen as permission is given for the activity to occur through the neglect of the gate. However, we must be careful in determining the source, as the power of our imagination and visual stimulation cannot be underestimated as an effective force on our dreaming capacity. But when extra-natural sources influence our dreams negatively, it’s an indicator that some housekeeping is in order.
NIGHTMARES AND THE DEMONIC
Nightmares can be demonic, or they can merely be sourced in our natural capability to dream. When a nightmare is natural, it is just a reaction to overstimulation by data that we are incapable of coping with life events. A nightmare can also come from fatigue, emotional withdrawal from a problematic condition, stress, conflicts with people, or other hard-to-handle things that happen in life.
Another sub-category of dreams that should be addressed that abides under the miscellaneous banner is what we identify as false dreams. Biblically, false dreams operate in the sphere of influence as false prophecies, allowing dreams to be usedfor wrong purposes. When we use the idea of interpreting dreams for improper purposes, this is akin to using our influence to manipulate the people with whom we are in varying degrees of relationship. It is an expression of self-service. Jeremiah 23:32 gives us an example of this form of spiritual abuse. Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” says the Lord, “and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. I did not send them or command them; therefore, they shall not profit this person at all,” says the Lord.
It needs to be said that when people use their spiritual status, spiritual giftedness, and spiritual influence to manipulate others and lead them into a false religious understanding or experience, standards need to be raised up, and enforcement procedures need to be exercised against the egregious practitioners. The need for policing applies to dreams, prophecy,and theology.
BASIC STANDARDS FOR DREAM INTERPRETATION
When you evaluate a dream, always use Scripture as the standard by which you measure your interpretation. You must also remember the prophetic edge that dreams can carry. Mantic dreams are usually “bright” dreams with clarity, light, and vividness attached to the details. Prophetic dreams have a purposeful intent inherent to them, as it is God speaking to you.
SUBJECTIVE AND OBJECTIVE DREAM COMPONENTS
We can also create divisions for clarity. This can identify dreams as being subjective or objective. The strength of doing this helps us address dreams’ inspiration component. As we identified before, dreams can have three sources. The demonic realm can influence our dreams, the soulish realm can also affect our dreams, and the Holy Spirit can transformour dreams. Subjective dreams are exclusively for the dreamer. They are personal messages or images that typically make sense to the dreamer of the dream. We estimate that roughly 90-95% of all dreams fall into this categorization regardless of their source.
THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE
Interestingly, there is an exception to this generalization, according to studies. The exception is related to people who serve in ministry positions as an occupation. It is not uncommon for people in ministry to receive messages and dreams for other people. Message dreams have specific characteristics that tend to dominate the dream. The protagonist is almost always the active participant in the dream narrative. These dreams often have personal applications as they operate within the vehicle of personal communication. Their focus is almost always on divine communique. Pharaoh’s Cup Bearer is a good example. In Genesis 40:5-8 we read, then the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream, both of them, each man’s dream in one night and each man’s dream with its own interpretation. 6 And Joseph came in to them in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, “Why do you look so sad today?” 8 And they said to him, “We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.” So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.”
The Bible contains multiple examples for this type of dream. Men with prophetic mantles, like Abraham, Jacob, and Daniel, received these types of dreams. (GENESIS 15:12-17; 28:12; 31:10). Non-Prophets also had mantic dreams in the Bible. Joseph dreamed a big dream in Genesis 37:5, 9-10, 20. Solomon dreamt the dreams of God in 1 Kings 3:5. Joseph, Mary’s husband, also dreamed mantically in Matthew 1:20. Heathens are also the recipients of dreams from God. Genesis 20:3 is the story of Abimelech’s dream. Laban has a mantic dream in Genesis 31:24, and Midianites had dreams in Judges 7:13-14. Pharaoh dreamt mantically in Genesis 41:7, 15-26. Nebuchadnezzar dreamed in Daniel 2:1, 4, 36. The Wise men from the East had their dreams referenced in Matthew 2:12. Pilate’s wife received a warning dream in Matthew 27:19.