Interpretation of Dreams and Visions
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter (Proverbs 25:2).
God spoke to man since the beginning of time. Adam walked with God in the beginning and God spoke to him face to face. When Adam walked with God in the garden, He taught him about creation and the purpose for cultivating and maintaining it. He also taught him about naming the animals and his relationship with them. God did not speak to him in parables because it was given to him to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. It was the will of God for him to have all things and to have it in abundance. In this they found great joy and fulfillment as they flow in absolute divine fellowship. As Adam abided in Christ His Creator and do His will, he flowed with the life force of God; he was totally alive to God always moving, vibrant and overflowing with the Spirit of God, lacking in nothing.
After sin entered into him and the discord of sin entered his soul he lost his eternal life and divine power because he was not only casted out of Eden but, as a branch, was cut off from the Vine, Jesus Christ his Creator. Because of disobedience his heart grew dull, his ears hard of hearing and his eyes closed so that he saw but did not perceive and hear but did not understand.
After the fall of man at various times and in diverse manners God spoke to the fathers by the prophets to the sons of Adam. Since two thousand years ago God spoke to them by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He also made the worlds (Hebrews 1:1-2).
In the earlier Old Testament times, prophets were called seers because the Holy Spirit enabled them to see things in the spirit realm about mysteries hidden in all time frames (past, present and future). Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: “Come, let us go to the seer”; for he that is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer (1 Samuel 9:9).
Though many prophets of old had awesome dreams and visions they did not perceive the times thereof neither what it was about. They desired to see and hear the things that the heirs of salvation see and hear today; they see and hear it but did not understand it. The Old Testament saints witnessed the mighty works of God and understood that not to themselves, but to us the heirs of salvation they were ministering (1 Peter 1: 10-12). Those things were types and shadows of heavenly things and good things to come. God has veiled His wisdom in plain sight from them. The wisdom of God is revealed in that Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
Jesus, in His ministry, used symbolic language as He taught by the parabolic method. Why is God veiling the truth? All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable he did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13:34-35).
Since the fall of man God conceals truth in parables, dreams and visions which need interpretation to seal the understanding thereof to the heart. The first biblical example is where Joseph’s brothers interpreted Joseph’s dream about their sheaves bowed down to his sheaf. Jacob interpreted Joseph’s dream about the sun, moon and eleven stars that bowed down to him (Joseph). Joseph interpreted the butler’s, the baker’s and Pharaoh’s dreams. A man interprets his companion’s dream in the camp of Gideon about the barley loaf that tumbled into the camp of Midian. Daniel was the interpreter of dreams and visions to some kings of Babylon (e.g. the vision of King Belshazzar that saw part of a hand that wrote him a message on the wall of his palace).
The prophecies of Ezekiel, Daniel and the Book of Revelation written by John are expressed in symbolic language. Why is God speaking in parables? Why is He veiling His messages to some and reveal it to others? And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given (Matthew 13: 10-11).
Interpretation of dreams and visions
In 1988 while my wife was pregnant with our son, Oleg, my mother-in-law had a dream about her, pushing a red pram with a child in it. She interpreted the dream and indicated that she will have a daughter. She believes that the color blue represents a son and the color red represents a girl. This is a traditional believe in Ukraine. My wife believed her dream and interpretation. Just thereafter my wife had a direct dream (no interpretation required) that she will have a son that will be born with black hair. Although our son is blond today he was born with black hair just as she had seen him in her dream. God gave her this dream in response to a dream that was incorrectly interpreted. Sometimes God imparts revelation through dreams that require no interpretation.
Nevertheless, most dreams and visions are veiled in symbolism and require interpretation. Then He said, Hear now my words: 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; he is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings… (Numbers 12:6-8a, emphasis added).
We found the first account of dream interpretation in the Bible, in Genesis 37:8, where Joseph’s brother’s interpreted his dream about their sheaves bowed down to his. Jacob probably taught them how to interpret dreams, which he must have learned from his grandfather Abraham and father Isaac. In the accounts of Joseph and Daniel we found that beside themselves magicians were also interpreters of dreams. So dream interpretation was practiced since ancient times.
Historical background of dreams in modern times
Artemidorus of Daldus (AD 138-180), a Roman philosopher, studied symbols in dreams. He interviewed dream interpreters throughout Italy, Greece and the Near East, and noted that dreams could rarely be taken at face value. In his book “Interpretation of Dreams”, he established principals for the interpretation of fundamental types of symbols and images appearing in dreams. His work foreshadowed in many ways the work of Freud and Jung, eighteen hundred years later, and provides an important link between the ancient and modern methods of dream interpretation.
The Christian theologian Gregory of Nyassa (AD 331-395) published a treatise entitled “On the Making of Man”, wherein he stated that dreams occur in sleep because the rational intellect is at rest. Because the intellect is resting, the dream mind can work through the day’s activities.
In the thirteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church declared that the future was solely in the hands of God and that dreams could neither be prophetic, nor communicate divine revelation. People, who claimed that their dreams were divinely inspired, were condemned as blasphemous. Joan of Arc, a dreamer whose visions changed the course of French history, were burned alive at the stake in 1431 as a heretical witch, partly because the Church denied that her dreams or visions could be divinely inspired.
Nevertheless, interest in dream interpretation never really declined. With the arrival of printing in the Renaissance, the book of Artemidorus was printed in 1518, and went through twenty editions in the next 200 years. Despite this popular interest, ascetic Protestants gave no credence to their dreams. Yet the great reformer Martin Luther taught his followers that dreams revealed their sinful nature.
The German Romantic Movement of the late eighteen century developed various theories on dreaming. The German physicist, GC Lichtenberg (1742-99) was the first scholar to link dreams with the unconscious. By the end of the nineteenth century, dreams were recognized as products of the unconscious and linked to the source of creative and imaginative ideas.
In England, Henry Maudsley became well known as a physician of “nervous disorders.” He noticed that “dreams are sometimes found to go before severe illness.” However, despite his observations, none of his peers seemed interested in the possible power of dreams.
Freud and Jung
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the founder of psychoanalyses, began the first comprehensive scientific study of dreams in the 1890’s. The result of these efforts was the publication of his book, “The interpretation of dreams” (1900), which describes a method for the interpretation of dreams.
Freud differentiated between the hidden meaning and its actual content. He did this by trying to reconstruct the motivation of the dream from the dreamer’s waking associations. According to Freud, thoughts that are characteristics of our early childhood strongly influence our dreams. In his view, the mysterious and absurd qualities of dreams are directly due to the need for disguising the wishes, which our conscious mind will not acknowledge. Freud stated that dreams have two principal functions: first, to attempt to fulfill our restrained, subconscious wishes that are mainly sexual and aggressive in nature and secondly, to guard our sleep. Freud believed that the content of dreams consists of our memories, but that the stimulus for a dream is always a subconscious wish that has its origin in childhood.
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1962) started his research similarly to Freud, and later developed his own theories. He analyzed the dreams of his patients to explore the inaccessible regions of the subconscious mind. He too believed that dreams are largely symbolic. While Freud’s wish-fulfillment theory was intended to explain the biological function of dreaming, Jung’s theory suggested also a psychological function of dreams. His view was that the function of dreams is to compensate for aspects of the dreamer’s personality neglected in his conscious life. This viewpoint does not differ substantially from Freud’s wish-fulfillment theory. For Jung, dreams attempt to reveal rather than to conceal what is in the subconscious mind. He used mythology, comparative religion, and history in interpreting the symbols appearing in dreams.
Following on from the early work of Freud and Jung, a continual interest in dreams has existed. Many attempts have been made to find a systematic method to interpret the symbols occurring in dreams and to give a consistent meaning and explanation of these symbols. However, both
Freud and Jung concluded that the meaning of a dream differs from person to person depending on the person’s own perception of that symbol. They suggested that ascribing any consistent meaning to the symbols occurring in dreams is impossible. For example, a lion could symbolize power and authority to one person, but destruction and danger to another. They concluded that the meaning of a dream depends on the individual’s own perception of that symbol.
We have to consider that in their research, Freud and Jung did not differentiate between the dreams of unbelievers and those of born-gain, spirit-filled believers. They mainly worked with problem-loaded people who had no relationship with God.
They spent some time together, discussing their theories and interpreting each other’s dreams. Each rejected the other’s interpretation of the dreams. Jung believed every human being is deeply rooted and connected with the history of mankind. He established the term, common sub-consciousness, while Freud’s theory was personality centered. A growing conflict developed between Freud and Jung and the final break between them came on their trip to the United States in 1912. During this period when Jung pondered on the validity of Freud’s theory and how this theory could be linked to human history, Jung had a dream.
He dreamt that he was in an unknown two storey house but he knew it was his house. He found himself in the upper storey in a type of salon, furnished with fine old furniture in rococo style, with many old paintings hanging on the walls. He was quite pleased with the appearance of his house and wanted to discover what the lower floor looked like. Descending the stairs, he reached the ground floor, where everything was much older, dating to the fifteenth or sixteenth century. The furniture was medieval. The floor was tiled with red bricks, and everything was rather dark. He then came to a heavy door and discovered a stone stairway that led down into the basement. There he found himself in a beautiful vaulted room that looked ancient. The walls dated to Roman times. On the floor he discovered a golden ring. With it he lifted a stone slab and saw another stairway leading down. He followed it and came into a low cave cut into the rock. Thick dust, scattered bones, broken pottery, and two human skulls lay on the floor. The skulls were partially disintegrated. Then he awoke.
Jung asked Freud to interpret his dream, which Freud did according to his wish-fulfillment theory. Before starting with the interpretation, Freud asked Jung what two people he disliked the most. Jung mentioned his mother-in-law and wife. Freud claimed that the two skulls represented Jung’s wife and mother-in-law because he was convinced that Jung would like to see both dead. This was not true at all. Jung liked both of them very much but had deliberately misled Freud to test his interpretation skills. Freud’s misinterpretation caused the final break between the two.
Jung’s interpretation of the dream was that the house represented a type of psychical image – where the salon with its inhabited atmosphere symbolized the consciousness, while the ground floor represented the first level of the unconscious. The further he descended into the house the darker the scene became. The lowest cave was filled with the remains of early civilization, which Jung interpreted as the world of the primitive man inside each of us. He said that the primitive psyche of man borders on the life of the animal soul, just as animals inhabited caves, before human beings started to dwell in them.
However, Jung did not follow the basic Biblical principal that a dream comes as an answer to the questions a person pondered on before falling asleep. For example, King Nebuchadnezzar was concerned with the future of his kingdom after his death (Daniel 2:29). In the dream, God gave him the answer to his question and showed him what the future would bring. Daniel could tell Nebuchadnezzar both the question that had been in the king’s heart, and the interpretation.
Because Jung pondered on Freud’s theory and how it could be linked to human history, God gave him the answer. Let me give you the interpretation. The house in his dream symbolized human history. Important historical periods were associated with various levels of the house. The early history was associated with the lowest part of the house, and ascending storeys represented more recent history.
In the cave Jung found two human skulls. We can relate them to Adam and Eve as the whole floor of the cave was covered with thick dust. Adam and Eve decided to exalt knowledge above the fear of God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In punishment God cursed them, saying they would die and go back to the dust from which He took them.
The basement of the house was set in the style of the Roman period. This was a decisive period where knowledge, argumentative skills and education became very important powers governing mankind, and truth was violated. The ground floor represents the late medieval times and the second storey the rococo which led to the age of enlightenment and humanism. We note that Jung was impressed by the fine appearance of the furniture and the precious paintings, all produced by the human mind. His dream showed that Freud was actually a successor of all those people who had been seeking the fruit of the tree of knowledge, valuing the power of self over the fear of the Lord.
The house is a symbol of human achievements throughout the ages, but founded on death, dust and dead bones. All the things Jung saw in the house are dead works with no real living value (all the furniture was antiques), merely deceiving the proud. The fact that Jung saw this as his own house shows that Jung was deeply influenced by the mindsets of his ancestors, dating to the beginning of mankind. He was not, as he might have thought, independent and free in his thinking. Repeatedly in the history of mankind, the same sin has been repeated, namely not seeking the tree of life that is to know the Lord in all your ways and not to lean on your own understanding.
Many people today are following Freud and Jung’s principals and guidelines for interpreting dreams. It is shocking to know that even spiritual leaders base their understanding of dreams on Freud and Jung’s ideas. Most of these authors work with problem-loaded clients who had no relationship with God.
The ancient Russians were heathen. Presently, there exist many books about dream interpretation in the countries of the old USSR, which are based on heathen religious believe and superstition.
The only and true way for dream and vision interpretation
The Scriptures should interpret dreams and visions, and not theories or superstitious believes. The Word and the Holy Spirit are one and will never contradict each other. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures [Word] nor the power of God [Holy Spirit] (Matthew 22:29).
If one does not study the language of the symbol and type of the Bible some of its grandeur will be missing and dreams and visions cannot be interpreted. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter (Proverbs 25:2).
The Bible indicates that an object may obtain a specific meaning by its inherent character. So animals, birds, fish and even objects, not referred to in Scripture, can be interpreted by their characteristics, habits and uses.
Scriptures to support above statement are as follows: But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you (Job 12:7-8). We can use the following example to explain the above scriptures. The hyena has extremely powerful jaws. It is a scavenger, although it will also attack and kill life prey. It scavenges the leftovers from other predators with little effort and become very aggressive when other animals want a share of its prey. A hyena speaks of a person that takes advantage of others.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard (Psalm 19:1-3).
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20). Paul said to us that the natural was first and then the spiritual. However the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:46).
The interpretation of dreams and visions is included in the gift of interpretation of tongues (dark sayings), and it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. As for these four young children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams (Daniel 1:17, emphasis added).
Steps to interpret dreams and visions
Firstly, one must be aware that the interpretation of dreams and visions is a gift from God. Sometimes the Holy Spirit reveals the meaning immediately but at times it takes longer. It may take hours, days or weeks or even longer to receive the interpretation. So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation (Daniel 2:16).
Secondly, the symbolology and typology of the Bible should be studied in detail knowing that the Bible is written in the language of signs, symbols and types. Jesus taught in parables, thus using symbolic language. I will open my mouth in parable; I will utter dark sayings of old (Psalm 78:2).
Solomon said to impart wisdom to the godly you must understand proverbs and their interpretation. A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles (Proverbs 1:5-6).
We must pay attention to fine details in a dream such as color, direction, symbolic action, numbers and shapes. To correctly and completely interpret dreams one must take care of all details contained in the dream or vision.
God has created the color spectrum, with its seven colors, in a specific order. The colors are purple, indigo, blue, green yellow, orange and red. Red has the longest wavelength and purple the shortest. The first three colors refer to the manifestation of the Spirit. In the tabernacle of Moses the colors blue, scarlet and purple were used (Exodus 39:1). The red or scarlet color refers to the blood needed for the remission of sins.
The color green lies in the middle and therefore representing the soul, which includes the mind, emotions and will. For example, I had a vision of a green coffin while praying for somebody. It emerged that this woman feared that she might die from breast cancer at an early age, as were the cases with her mother and grandmother. I assured her that the source of her concern originated in her own mind (green coffin). It is now two decades later and she has two beautiful kids and she is just as healthy as 20 years ago.
The last three colors, yellow orange and red are associated with the works of the flesh. It does not mean that these colors only have negative meanings.
All detail is important such as direction of movement or field of vision. These details give us an indication if it is a positive or negative message and also to which timeframe it belongs. See my book “Interpretation of Dreams and Visions” for a full explanation.
Symbolic action such as facial expressions often indicates the mood of the dream and shows if the symbols must be interpreted positively or negatively. It is necessary to emphasize that this is not to be worked out in the carnal mind but to be discerned by the Holy Spirit.
Numbers are occasionally included in the content of a dream or a vision. Numbers are a superior form of symbolism and their meanings are rarely understood. A symbol should be interpreted as it is used in Scripture. By learning the different ways numbers and other objects are used in the Bible, we can interpret accurately what they mean in our dreams and visions.
Occasionally shapes like circles, squares or triangles appear in dreams and visions. Some people reluctantly speak about them, as they fear that its source is from the devil. If all circles, squares and triangles were evil, it would mean that all creation in heaven and on earth with all their beauty is constructed by the evil one, which is not true.
The occult does associate certain circles and triangles with witchcraft, but we must ask God for the discernment between life and death and the truth and the lie. Circles, squares and triangles are discussed in detail in my book “Interpretation of Dreams and Visions.”
Thirdly, record the dream or vision as accurately and completely as possible. Record the dream as soon as you wake up otherwise you may forget some detail and often forget the whole dream. Record all details such as colors, numbers, direction of objects, field of vision and your mood and if it was a positive or negative experience. Do not add (never assume) or take away from the dream, as it will influence the interpretation. Have a pen and paper next to your bed to record dreams as soon as you wake up. Also take a pen and paper with you when you pray to record visions immediately after you have seen them. Sometimes you may dream or see visions and sometimes you do not dream dreams and see visions. Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it” (Habakkuk 2:2).
I also have a dream and vision journal on my personal computer where I record my dreams and visions because I am not good at writing down my dream the first time in strict sequential order of events. My handwritten copy is always a mess.
Fourthly, analyze the dream or vision. Make a thorough study/research of all the symbolic objects and symbols in your dreams or visions. Create a complete record of each symbolic object and symbol and then update your symbolic dictionary. State the definition or give a reasonable description of the object or symbol as well as its most important characteristics, habits and/or uses. If the object or symbol is traceable to the Scriptures, record the Hebrew and/or Greek meanings and refer to the relevant verses. An object or symbol has as many meanings (positive or negative) as it has characteristics, habits and/or uses. So, the interpretation of a specific symbol may differ from one vision to another depending on which characteristic the Holy Spirit wishes to emphasize. A lion in a particular vision may reveal the Lion of the tribe of Judah. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof (Revelation 5:5). On a different time surrounding other conditions, a vision of a lion may refer to demonic attack. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (Jeremiah 8:7a). The characteristic, which the Holy Spirit desires to emphasize is discerned by the Holy Spirit and not worked out in the carnal mind. Practicing the gift of interpretation of dreams and visions needs endurance. The more you know your Bible, the more Scripture the Holy Spirit can use to bring it to mind.
To update my symbolic dictionary, I use the Bible, books on the animal and plant kingdoms, Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias, Hebrew and Greek lexicons and dictionaries. I also use the Internet in my research. As a rule I prefer to exclude secular material as far as possible. Occasionally secular material proves to be useful. Make use of Bible programs (e.g. E-sword), which can be downloaded from the Internet for free, the Internet and your local library as books are expensive. Over time, if you faithfully do what I tell you, you will develop a good understanding of the leading of the Holy Spirit in dreams and visions as well as the meaning of most objects and symbols. Practice makes perfect.
The Lord occasionally uses objects and symbols that relates to a person’s occupation and interests. A shopkeeper may receive dreams and visions about products, services and customers, while a professional hunter, from time to time may receive dreams and visions about wild animals, rifles, ammunition and customers.
Fifthly, you need to discern if your dream is a spiritual or natural dream. You need to know whether the Holy Spirit inspired the dream or whether it was a product of your mind.
We also need to know if the dream is symbolic (parable) or literal. Normally if something in a dream is not literal then the whole dream with all objects and symbols must be interpreted. However, there are rare occasions when this rule does not apply. Refer the chapter on dreams concerning a woman that had a dream where she saw people in a large swimming pool.
You also need to know to whom the dream refers and what the dream really means. Therefore, record the background of all dreams or visions. The background involves the activity a person was engage in or the meditation of a person’s heart or the issue a person wrestles with before he or she went to bed. Record if the prayer, experience or meditation was intense and what it was about. You need to know what the dream relates to. Is this Scriptural? King Nebuchadnezzar meditated on what would happen after his reign and God answered him: As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what will come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be (Daniel 2:29).
Fervent prayer and meditation on the word of God every day, is a healthy habit. It is not good enough to believe God for dreams. Passivity will not provoke dreams and visions. When you are involved in prayer, worship, waiting on the Lord and living in the Word we minister to God and others. Then the Lord will speak to you through dreams and visions to reveal His will to you. The will of God is for your own good; to bring His Son forth in you.
Sixthly, the dream or vision needs interpretation. Ask the Lord for the interpretation of the dream or vision. Start at the beginning of the dream and interpret the objects and symbols one by one and thus the dream. Dreams may relate to you personally, to your family, to your church, your business, or be applicable to third parties, nations, countries and continents. This chapter is only an introduction to help you. You approach the interpretation of dreams and visions in the same sincere manner as when you meditate on the word and it involves the same steps. It takes time, patience and much perseverance to practice your gift.
I started to see visions after my conversion in 1973. It took me eighteen months before I started to flow in the interpretation of dreams and visions. In the beginning I saw dreams and visions but could not interpret them. One day I said to the Lord, “What is the use You are giving me dreams and visions but I cannot interpret them. What a waste.” Immediately I received the gift of interpretation because I knew immediately the meaning of some visions I have had eighteen months before. When you ask God for the gift to interpret dreams and visions you must practice it as often as you can otherwise it will not develop.
Nobody can have a tender relationship with the Holy Spirit on behalf of somebody else. You are responsible for your own walk with God. Visit a prophetic group and learn from them. You must prepare yourself that you will make many mistakes in the beginning. You can with time mature in this interpretation gift where you become pretty accurate. However, I doubt it if there will be a time in this dispensation where you will be infallible. We know only in part and prophesy in part. For we know in part and we prophesy in part (1 Corinthians 13:9). This reality should keep you humble.
Lastly, take responsibility for what the Holy Spirit has revealed to you. Meditate on your visions and pray it through until its fulfillment and maturity. As long as you cry out for wisdom and understanding in what He has revealed to you, He will let you prosper in all areas of your life. And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper (2 Chronicles 26:5).
For more information on this subject read my book titled: Interpretation of Dreams and Visions (by Andre Niemand). It is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Waterstone, WH Smith, Blackwell, Books a Million and many other major online bookshops.
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