“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophecy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams”
Acts 2: 17-18
We’ve all had dreams that have stuck with us long after waking begging us to ponder their significance. We are not alone.
Throughout history men have dreamed dreams and sought to know their meanings. In Genesis 28 Jacob dreamed of a ladder that ascended into heaven with angels going up and down it. A few chapters later (chapter 37), Joseph has a dream in which he will rule over his brothers and parents. When he correctly interprets Pharaoh’s dream and saves the region from famine this comes true. Later, we meet Daniel who was a dream interpreter (see Daniel 2). And let’s not forget that it was in a dream that Joseph was instructed to take Mary as his wife (Matthew 1). The Bible is full of God speaking to His people through dreams. He still does this today.
Dreams have three sources
There are three sources to our dreams: the divine, the soulish realm (our own mind and emotions), and the demonic.
Let’s take a look at what these different dreams look like.
When God is the source:
Usually these dreams are striking in some way. They seem vibrant and more alive than waking life. Often, your spirit seems more “awake” and aware than what is normal. These dreams may be symbolic or literal. You may have an encounter with God in these dreams or He may reveal a truth or correction to you. The overall sense of these dreams is peaceful and non-threatening. There is often a sense of awe, wonder, or that you are in a place that is beyond the normal everyday experience of life.
An example would be when I had a normal dream and suddenly “Mr. Vine” entered my dream. He had snow white hair and an air of gentle, kindness. He started telling me about a woman named Jennifer who was very sick. He was praying for her and this desire rose in me to pray for her, as well. He held me in a hug that infused me completely with love. I wanted to stay in this embrace as long as possible. Then he told me the outcome he expected from her recovery and put his fingers on my chest. The electricity that came from his fingers jolted me awake. Then the words “I am the Vine…” went through my mind. See John 15:1 where Jesus tells us He is the Vine.
When the soul (memories and emotions) are the source:
I have found soulish dreams to be very useful. Usually they bring to our conscious mind things that have been deeply hidden within ourselves or issues that are needing our attention.
These dreams seem to be randomly pieced together: We are suddenly at our childhood home, but fully grown in our grandmother’s kitchen which overlooks our favorite vacationing spot. Strangely, it all seems to make perfect sense and flow seamlessly while we are asleep. Why? All of these places are places of peace and comfort. The underlying emotion is the string that connects them, so there is no break in continuity while we are dreaming.
Does God ever use these dreams to communicate with us? Yes, He does. This dream would most likely leave the dreamer with a “peace hangover” upon awakening. With prayer the Holy Spirit may direct the dreamer to take inventory of her daily activities and see if some much needed rest and relaxation were in order. God shows us through dreams how to pay attention to our physical and emotional needs and what actions to take.
When the demonic is the source:
We can usually tell if our dreams are demonically inspired. Fear, hopelessness, terror, and a strong pull to act out on our weaknesses are usually present. The colors are usually dark or muted. The setting will be one to inspire fear or a feeling of isolation and vulnerability. You may be paralyzed, too slow to outrun your attacker, or unable to call for help. Maybe you are being chased by a murderer or attacked by wild animals. These dreams leave a lasting impression.
The causes of these dreams vary. If they are a recurring problem, see if there is trauma, sin, child abuse, or occult activity in your past. If so, you may want to get help in dealing with these hurtful issues.
Can God use these dreams as well? The good news, is, yes!
Demonic influences in your dreams can be terrifying, but together you and God can find the root cause of the dream and take care of whatever issue the enemy is trying to exploit. You may need healing from something in your past, or to turn away from sin or perversity. Pay attention to the emotions in these dreams. Is it fear? Fear of what? What is being attacked or compromised? You? Your job? Your family? This is the area you need to focus on. This is the enemy’s target in your waking life. Take this to God in prayer. Let Him show you the enemy’s strategy and the tactics being used. Allow God to show you how to handle this and then apply God’s answer to the problem. Take what the enemy has meant for harm and use it to turn your life around!
Remember, the art of dream interpretation is based on our relationship with our God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Whenever you have a dream that you remember always ask the Holy Spirit for His interpretation. Do not overlook this! Sometimes the meaning is obvious. Other times the Holy Spirit gives clues to its meaning and expects us to invest time and effort into discovering the message.