I was walking through St Joseph’s hospital in Tacoma. It was packed with patients today. It was standing room only. Something strange was going on. None of the people I saw were being treated for medical problems. As I walked the hallways I kept seeing more patients everywhere I looked. I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. They were sitting in hallways and lobbies socializing. Some were in wheelchairs, some sat on the floor and others were standing as they talked in small groups. The noise of people talking and laughing created an atmosphere that was more like a wedding reception. I could tell they were all excited about the same thing. There was a joy I’d never seen in a hospital before. These patients weren’t here to be treated. They were here for check ups. Somehow they all knew that miraculous healings were about to take place. They wanted to have their conditions documented by their doctors before they were healed so there would be no question about how it happened. That’s when I woke up.
I was one of the coolest dreams I’ve ever had. I was excited for weeks afterward and I was willing to pray for anyone who was sick. I believe this dream was more than just wishful thinking. I can’t recall having any dreams in the last 25 years. I’m having them regularly now and many of them are like this one. If you stick around, I’ll explain why I believe it was a taste of things to come. I’d like to take you on an exploration of dreams; why we have them, where they come from, what they mean and how they shape our future.
I took psychology classes in college because the human mind fascinates me. I learned a lot but I was a little disappointed. I learned about the different theories proposed by Freud, Jung, Skinner and others. But one thing bothered me; the different theories of psychology don’t form a cohesive, unified explanation of how the mind works. Instead, every theory proposed disagreed with the others. We were asked to review all the different theoretical models then pick the one we liked. There wasn’t much scientific research supporting any of them. Some experts have theories for dream interpretation. I didn't find any compelling methods among the ones I studied.
Another thing was missing from the field of psychology; they claimed to know nothing of the spiritual dimension. Some disciplines like behaviorism deny the possibility of the spirit. Even as an atheist, (during the 1980's) this bothered me. They relegate spiritual matters to experts in religion, or deny it altogether. We fall short in our attempt to study human behavior if we fail to account for all the components of our existence. If the spirit-world is real and dreams are connected to it, we should investigate that possibility.
I heard Chuck Missler report on an interesting discovery. Experts found that in attempting to divide particles of matter into smaller and smaller parts, at a point in the process the particles lose their location. You cannot infinitely divide the matter of our world.
What relevance does this have?
This forced experts to conclude that our universe is not analog, but digital. That has startling implications. It means that we live in a universe that's similar to a computer game. Our universe is really a replication or simulation created by another universe. The parent universe is analog and its a lot more real than ours.
We live in a world like the one portrayed in the movie “The Matrix”, that eerie world in which everything that seems real is only a cleverly devised simulation. There’s an invisible world we can’t see with our natural eyes it’s the real deal in every way that matters. Most of us are oblivious to it our entire lives, unless someone tells us about it. That eternal world is accessible every night when you go to bed as the physical world is put on hold and your spirit takes over. Just close your eyes and enter the eternal universe.
While you’re here you should take notes, your physical body doesn’t understand or want to participate in the spiritual universe. As soon as you wake up, the body will try to force the spirit back in its box and your memories of the eternal dimension will vanish. This is why we seldom remember dreams in detail. The apostle Paul said, “The spirit wars against the flesh and the flesh against the spirit because these two are contrary to one another.” (Gal 5:17) When he taught on the reality of the invisible universe he said, “We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2:Cor 4:18) And how do we see the unseen? With the eyes of our spirit, which Paul mentioned in his prayer for his friends in Ephesus, “that the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened.” (Eph 1:18)
The Foundation For Dreams
I’d like to establish a biblical foundation on which to build an understanding of dreams. Some scholars believe the book of Job to be the oldest book of the Old Testament. Although the events of Genesis pre-date Job, it is believed that Job lived before Moses. Some experts believe it's one of the oldest texts in the world. Even a few thousand years ago, men had a keen understanding of how God worked. Job’s friend Elihu reminds him of the diverse ways in which God speaks to us. Because we often fail to perceive God’s voice, He reveals secrets to us while we sleep:
For God may speak in one way, or in another,Yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction.I n order to turn man from his deed, And conceal pride from man, He keeps back his soul from the Pit, And his life from perishing by the sword. (Job 33:14-18)
Types of Dreams
Warning / Correction
In Genesis 31, Jacob had a dream in which an angel told him that God knew how his father-in-law, Laban had cheated him over the years. The angel told him to leave Laban’s land secretly. Laban was also warned by God in a dream not to speak harshly to Jacob about it.
Abimelech was warned in a dream not to sleep with the wife of Abraham or he would die. (Gen 20:3).
Joseph’s cell mates had divine dreams, one was promised freedom; the other was warned of his impending death. (Gen. 40:5).
Pharaoh was warned in a dream about a coming famine lasting 7 years. (Gen. 41)
When Joseph learned that his wife Mary was pregnant, he considered leaving her, but an angel came to him in a dream and revealed that her pregnancy was a divine miracle and that he was to fulfill his marriage commitment. He was also warned in a dream of Herod’s plan to kill Jesus and to flee to Egypt. The accounts are from Matthew chapters 1 & 2.
Divine Provision and Protection
In Genesis 28, Jacob falls asleep by a river. God comes to him in a dream and gives him several covenant promises; to bless him all of his days, to make a great family for him, to give him the land promised to Isaac and Abraham, and a promise that all the nations of the world would be blessed through him. It is interesting to note that Jacob did not have a dream about God, but that God manifested his actual presence to Jacob while his body slept.
God also manifested His presence to Solomon while he slept. Solomon had a conversation with God in a dream. God told him to ask for anything he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom to rule over God’s people. In the dream God gave him wisdom greater than anyone who ever lived. He also received great honor, riches and a promise of long life if he would be obedient, because he didn’t ask for any of these things. Then Solomon woke up and realized all these things happened while he was sleeping. (1 Kings 3:5-15)
Strategies for Victory
Gideon was told to spy on his enemies. As he listened in he learned that one of them had been given a dream of a loaf of bread rolling down a hill and smashing their tents. The enemies interpreted it as a sure sign of defeat. Gideon went back to his camp and confidently led his troops to victory. (Judges 7:13-15)
King Nebuchadnezzar was given a dream concerning his own kingdom and all the world kingdoms to follow. It was revealed that his kingdom was the greatest of the kingdoms of man. He was greatly encouraged by this dream. (Dan. 2:36-45)
Direction in Ministry
Both the apostles Peter and Paul were given assignments from God in visions. (Dreams and visions are very similar. The main difference being that visions occur while we are a wake) In his vision, Paul saw a man from Macedonia praying. God told Paul and his friends to go there. Peter had a series of visions in which God showed him (symbolically) that the ‘unclean’ Gentiles he disliked were the ones God wanted him to reach next. (Acts 10:9-15 and 16:10)
God spoke to Aaron and Miriam about the way in which he would communicate to His prophets. “If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream, not so, with my servant Moses, who is faithful in all my house, with him I speak face to face, even plainly, not in dark sayings.” (Num. 12:6-8)
When the prophet Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel, he knew in advance all the details of the encounter. He knew where Saul would go after he left and all the people he'd meet. It's likely that God revealed some this information to Samuel through dreams or visions. (see 1 Sam. 9-10)
Both Daniel and the apostle John saw events that would take place thousands of years in the future; much of it was revealed in dreams and visions. God is able to transport us in the spirit to the future and show us things to come.
I've heard some wonderful testimonies about healing that people have received while they slept. Particularly in the area of inner healing for emotional trauma during childhood. Is it strange to believe that God is able to heal us regardless of whether we're awake or sleeping?
There are many other purposes for dreams that I haven't mentioned. Here are few examples of what God has done through dreams and visions in modern times:
Charles Spurgeon, the famous 19th century preacher was given an entire sermon in a dream. His wife wrote it down and he preached it to the congregation the following Sunday.
The city of Spokane, Washington was once called the healthiest city in the world, due to the healing ministry of John G. Lake. He was a millionaire who held an influential seat on the Chicago Board of Trade. While in prayer one night he had a vision from God that lasted 4 hours. In the vision he was given all the details of the next season of his life. Later he moved to Indianapolis, then to South Africa, where he had an incredible ministry in healing and church- planting. Later he moved to Spokane and started the healing rooms there. Records show that over 100,000 people were healed there in a span of 5 years. All of these things were revealed to him in the vision.
Most of us spend a third of our life asleep. While our physical bodies require rest, our spirit doesn’t need it. It's always able to interact with the realm of the spirit. It’s when the body is asleep and there are fewer distractions that God can speak to us and perhaps get through. Even so, there’s a rebellious soul to deal with, and that’s why dreams are often symbolic. As much as we think we’d obey God if he just told us things plainly, the truth is our soul is rather stubborn and independent. God uses symbolic language to get our soul to cooperate. If we become curious about the messages in a dream, the soul will engage in a journey of discovery. Peter had to be shown his vision 3 times and argued with God about it repeatedly. I’ve done the same thing myself on more than one occasion.
I’ve learned that the major obstacle (for me) in hearing God’s voice is getting rid of all the distractions. Once my soul is quiet, I see and hear God much more clearly. But when our physical body is completely at rest, there are almost no distractions and revelation flows more freely. God is a Father who wants to share His secrets with us. That requires us taking time to listen without distractions.
Dreams come from different sources; from our own soul, from God or from his enemies. I’ve had all 3 kinds. Dreams from the enemy are often dark, with sickly colors. There are feelings usually associated with these dreams like fear, guilt, shame, or unhappiness. The subject matter often involves something evil. I’ve heard creepy, demonic voices in this kind of dream. At times it may be hard to discern the origin of a dream. I've had some that I wasn't certain about. God will tell you what you need to know, so ask.
Dreams from the soul are those odd dreams that often seem pointless. There may not be a particular “feel” to some of them. They aren’t very symbolic or inspiring. But some dreams from God can be dismissed as ones from our soul. I've mistakenly thought some of my dreams weren't from God, but after asking the Holy Spirit, about them a profound truth came forth. Always ask God about your dreams.
Divine dreams are usually different from soul dreams. I can sometimes feel the presence of God in them. The feelings we have in a dream may contradict the feelings we would normally have about what's happening. How you feel in a dream is one key to it's interpretation.
I had a dream in which I killed an older man who lived down the street from me. (Hang on- let me explain!) In the dream we were friends and we did a lot of things together. I never met him in real life (in the natural) but in the dream I knew he had to die so I poisoned him and left him to die. I had a slight sadness about it, which turned into a sense of peace. The emotions I felt were nothing like I would have felt in reality. As God gave me the interpretation, I understood the lack of remorse I felt. In describing our call to walk in a new type of conduct, Paul says we should get rid of the old man in our life and consider him to be dead. The ‘old man’ represents our former way of living. Killing the ‘old man’ was symbolic of getting rid my old ways and submitting to God’s plan. That’s why I wasn’t full of guilt or remorse. (See Rom 6:6, Eph.4:22, Col.3:9)
Divine dreams can also follow you around through the day in your thoughts. This is especially true if you write them down. It transfers them from the spirit world to the natural making them permanent. As they come to mind, and as you meditate on them you’ll gain insight into their meaning. You’ll also notice more divine appointments. You’ll have a dream about someone you haven’t talked to in a long time, then a day or so later you''ll ‘mysteriously’ run into them. Your dream may describe something that happened to them. I had a dream with 2 scenes in which I was in a shop helping a friend fix a car. We were removing the drive shaft which is necessary before you work on the transmission. In the second scene, I was helping him put a roof on one of his buildings. I saw him 3 days later and told him about the dreams. He said that 3 days ago he was in his shop putting a transmission in his son’s car and told me the roof collapsed on his shop earlier that day.
When God begins to speak to us in dreams, He establishes a set of issues relevant to us, and a common language. If you’re struggling with some form of rebellion against God, it’ll show up in dreams, often in repeated themes with different settings and people. When you deal with that issue and put it behind you the subject of your dreams will change. God is always trying to get us into the best relationship possible. As He shows us one problem, we begin fixing our end of the relationship.
We each have a unique dream language. It’s an environment and set of symbols that represent a world familiar to us. I have a lot of dreams that take place in hospitals and ambulances. My daughter is a swimmer. Most of her divine dreams have a pool as the backdrop. My wife is a graphic designer. Her dreams often involve computers. Your dream setting and language will be familiar to you. I can’t possibly do justice to the intricate work of interpreting dreams in this message. But I’ll pass along some things I’ve learned and mistakes I've made. Hopefully you'll find a few pearls of wisdom:
* If you aren’t having dreams from God – Ask! He is always speaking to us. He never quits. David said in the 40th psalm that God’s thoughts toward you are as numerous as the sands of the seashore. Wouldn’t you like at least a handful or two of that sand? Aren’t you curious to know his plans for you? Ask and you will receive.
A few dreams are easy to interpret and can be taken literally. But most are not. I’ve had a number of “message’ dreams in which I’ve heard an audible voice speaking to me. These dreams are rare and need no interpretation. I’ve had dreams in which I see myself praying for someone to be healed or something similar. These dreams also don’t require a lot of interpretation.
Most, but not all divine dreams are symbolic in some way. Some have symbolism that is easy to unravel; some have complexity that is impossible to figure out without God’s help. There are some books on dream interpretation and symbols. The book of Daniel is probably the best book to start with. The book of Revelation is helpful with symbols. As you plow through the bible trying to decode your dreams, you’ll find God saying even more. For other books, stick with an author who is prophetically gifted. They tend to be a lot more insightful. James Goll is my favorite.
Joseph and Daniel both had skill in dream interpretation. Because of it they were promoted to the position of highest power under the rulers in their respective lands. They both said dream interpretations came from God. If it worked for them it should work for us. (see Gen 40:8 and Dan 2:28) In every case where the meaning of a dream is not absolutely plain, ask God.
Names are significant. Look up the origin and meaning of the names of people in a dream. Sometimes the name is the key to the interpretation. Sometimes it's the ministry they are in that God is speaking about. if you have a prophetic calling you can expect to have dreams in which prophets are present. The same goes for evangelism and other callings.
Symbolic dreams are like a puzzle. Work on one piece at a time. Decode each person’s name or place or color and think of each as a separate idea. Then bring the ideas together to make a complete picture.
I had a dream in which I was on a computer registering for a prophetic conference in Corpus Christi, Texas….yup, I spent the next week looking online for the conference and didn’t find one. Then one day I asked God what the dream was about. And He told me. ‘Corpus Christi’ is Latin for the body of Christ. I wasn’t supposed to go to Texas. God was informing me I had a prophetic gift to be used for the body of Christ.
The bible says “It’s the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search a matter out.” (Prov. 25:2) God conceals his plans in symbolic language to draw you into a closer relationship with Him so you come to him daily and ask, Hey – what are we doing today?
Always look up names, colors, places, objects, directions, numbers etc, in the bible – most things have a symbolic meaning and it’s the best place to start. I use a computer program with a Strong’s concordance number linked to each word and a searchable text. It makes the job a lot easier.
If you suddenly wake up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, especially at the same time each night, look at your clock (I prefer digital). Everyone I know who takes dreams seriously gets bible verses from their clock. The numbers usually represent the chapter and verse, you just need to ask God which book.
My wife received a prophetic word that she was in a season of rest. She was having a hard time believing it. She'd been dealing with health problems in this so-called season of rest. She was waking up at 4:10 every morning for no reason. She finally asked God what He was trying to tell her. He told her to look in the book of Hebrews. Wanna guess what Hebrews 4:10 says? "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His."
ALWAYS write down your dreams as soon as you wake from them. Middle of the night dreams are usually forgotten. Some people use a voice recorder or a word processing program on a laptop by the bed. I have note cards and a small flashlight on the nightstand. I copy the note cards to a daily spiritual journal. If you don’t write down your dreams, most of what God is trying to tell you will vanish with the dawn, as for me I want everything He can give me in those 8 hours while I’m sleeping. I hate it when I have a great dream and tell myself I'll remember it or I'll write it down later, then wake in the morning and it's gone forever. God rewards faithfulness. If we faithfully steward the things He has given us, we will receive more.
Record the interpretations as you get them. Some will come immediately, some in a week or two and some in 20 years. Extremely symbolic dreams are sometimes ‘locked’ with a time key. God doesn’t intend for you to solve the riddle until the exact time approaches. Work on these dreams over time and little by little the interpretation will start to appear.
Revelation from God is like a river – its going some place and hopefully taking you with it. Review your flow of revelation regularly. Find out where it’s going. I review my dreams about every 3 months. I’m surprised how many dreams I forget. When I take a look at the big picture, I always see a pattern developing that I wasn’t aware of.
Dreams will warn you of things to come and changes in the seasons of your life. Financial blessings or hardship, relationship problems, travel problems, and hassles at work are all fair game. God cares about every part of your life. You don’t have to be taken by life’s little surprises if you pay close attention to your dreams.
You may have ‘visions’ as well as dreams. There isn’t much difference between them. I classify something as a vision if I’m awake and a dream if I’m sleeping. I have a surprising number of visions. They're a lot like daydreams except for the content which usually involves your calling by God. Rules for visions are the same as dreams. And yes, all these things are valid for the times we live in. On the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit empowered those present, Peter recognized it as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. “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.” (Act 2:17) I heard a report that thousands of Muslims are becoming Christians in the Middle East during this season. Most of them aren’t in contact with anyone who is a Christian. They’re having encounters with Jesus through dreams.
Most of the dreams you have pertain to you, not others. Seeing and interacting with people in your dreams doesn’t always require you to knock on their door the next day or fly to New York to see them. Relax…most interaction with people in dreams is symbolic, not literal.
I had a dream in which Luis Palau was present. I spent a few weeks trying to find out when he was coming to my area so I could see him. Eventually, God showed me it just represented an evangelistic calling on my life. If God wants you to travel or meet with someone, He’ll tell you – just ask.
Most people have a lot of dreams involving vehicles. Bicycles, cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, and spaceships you name it. They’re modes of transportation and they represent your spiritual mode of travel at the present. They can also represent your ministry. Anything powered by your own strength is symbolic of working in the power of the flesh. God wants us to work in the power of the spirit. Vehicles with more power indicate greater spiritual power.
Buildings represent our life, typically seen as a house. The kind of house and its environment describe the present or future conditions of your life from God’s perspective. I had a friend who told me of a dream in which he was shown a glass house that was beautifully decorated. The usual piano was prominently on display (he’s a piano player). We concluded that the glass house represented transparency before God and man. God was calling him to a life where he didn’t feel the need to hide anything.
Angels - At the risk of sounding weird, I should mention the subject of angels. The Greek word most commonly used in scripture angelos can be defined as 'messenger'. The bible is full references to them and they are usually seen delivering a message to someone who's scared half to death at their appearance. They often deliver messages in dreams as noted above. I've had a lot of dreams in which I hear an audible voice speaking a simple message. My wife also has them. On a couple of occasions we received almost identical messages a few days apart from an audible voice. We haven't seen the messengers, but the bible would support the idea that we've had a lot of angels hanging out at our place speaking to us at night. My theory is that these messages are important enough to God's strategy that He doesn't want to risk an incorrect interpretation. To make sure we get the right message, God sends an angel to deliver the exact words.
God’s revelation to us involves a series of dreams in which He reveals both a big picture and smaller details. We may have dreams in which we interact with an evangelist we know, a pastor, or a worship leader. These people represent our calling in the ministry they operate in. We may not function at the same level of authority or in the same amount of gifting, but we are given the same type of calling. God will likely reveal your spiritual gifts and your particular calling, how you will operate in that gift, the geographic location in which you'll operate, your level of authority, sphere of influence, measure of gifting, the impact your service will have, people who’ll support you, opposition you’ll encounter, your eventual successes, and the rewards waiting for you. Some people get a 'big picture' dream or vision in a single encounter. Mine came over a span of about 3 months. My entire scope of ministry, people I'd work with, places I'd travel to, problems I'd encounter and many other details were all revealed in my dreams. God wants us to know the plan in advance. We need to receive it and walk it out.
For some reason the church is rather ignorant of the way God speaks to us in dreams. We worry a lot about what will happen if we step out in faith and try to impact the world for God. We doubt our abilities and fear failure. We imagine terrible opposition or a lack of resources. The enemy kicks all our hopes and dreams to pieces before we ever get started. God can settle all these issues with us before we step out the bedroom door for our coffee in the morning. I’ve listened to literally thousands of sermons in my life. I’ve never heard one message in which the speaker discussed dreams as his main subject. I can’t recall a message in which dreams were even discussed briefly.
I have a theory about why this problem exists. There are 5 leadership ministry positions given to the church as described in Ephesians 4:11. How many prophets and apostles are on staff at your local church?
Church leadership is comprised mostly of pastors and teachers. Prophets are the leaders who are the most gifted in supernatural revelation, and their 'office' in the church was taken away long ago. It's returning (slowly) and with lots of opposition. The majority of our leaders aren't into visions and dreams. They're good at teaching. So they tell us to read the bible, and if we really want to know the secrets of God we can learn Greek or Hebrew. The typical advice is to pray and listen for the "still, small voice".
I suppose It's not their fault. They're gifted in teaching and that's what they know best. When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. We need to support the development of prophetic ministry a little more. Yes, prophets have done some disservice in the past. They've also done a lot of good. We don't terminate the office of the pastor or teacher because people abuse those offices. We train them to mature in the gift. The people of God would benefit greatly if we'd wake up and start dreaming again. If God reveals His will to us through dreams and visions we need to change the way we think about it.
Joseph suffered a lot of hatred and envy from his brothers when He told them about his dreams. Please consider this as a word of encouragement for you. I’m not trying to boast about the things God has shown me. I’m nobody special, just another dreamer like you. I'll describe some good things God has shown me. He's also shown me my faults.
When I began having dreams, I was confronted with something I’d never read about or heard a lecture on, let alone imagined in my wildest dreams (which I wasn’t having yet). God was talking to me. And he had a lot to say.
The first dream in which God confronted me was sort of meeting in which He said, ‘I’ll show you some things, and you tell me what you see’. It reminded me of the call of Jeremiah (see Jer.1:11-13) I was able to interact as I wanted in the dream. I saw a series of images that were different organs of the body, like illustrations from an anatomy textbook. There were 2 of each organ, one healthy and one diseased. God happened to give me a test I had studied for. He picked diseases I could identify by sight. I saw cirrhosis of the liver, a brain tumor, esophageal varicies etc. I told Him what I saw each time. When the test was over He said, “I’m going to show you the medical conditions of some of your patients and if you pray for them, I will heal them.”
I can’t tell you how many dreams I’ve had since then in which I was in a hospital or my ambulance praying for people to be healed; not just patients either. I’ve had dreams in which I’m praying for co-workers, hospital staff, church members, family members and total strangers. In some dreams I’m reading books about people who had healing ministries years ago. In others I’m alone trying to hear the voice of God and discern what he wants to do. The ‘flow’ of my river is in the direction of prayer, healing and prophetic ministry. These dreams represent my sphere of influence and my calling. As I've been obedient to the revelation God gave me, I've seen an explosion of healing miracles over the last two years. You should expect a similar pattern of dreams to develop, in the area you are called to.
I have a lot of Facebook dreams. Some are words of knowledge for healing. Some are God's confirmation of whom He wants me to build relationships with. Some contain revelation about the Kingdom, which I turn into notes or post on blogs. I also receive burdens to pray for government leaders or groups of people through dreams. Many people learn about healing through books or videos. Most of what I know about healing has been taught to me through dreams.
Today I’m doing the things I saw in the dreams I had a few months ago. God is making my dreams come true. Through them I finally found out what my calling is and discovered my purpose for being on the planet. God has brought me through every experience of my life so that He could use me to heal people and demonstrate His love for them. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to finally know that. I’m waiting patiently for the day to come when I walk into the hospital and everyone there expects to be healed by God. Here’s the cool thing; I’m not a special case. God is willing to tell anyone their calling and purpose and show them their future just like He did me. And that means He’ll give you all the tools and information you need to do the things He’s planned for you long before you were born. Are you ready to have God make your dreams come true?