In this series, we have explored various aspects related to dreaming. When we dream, for various reasons, images flash through our mind, and our brains try hard to construct a narrative to makes sense of them. Dream interpretation tries to ascribe an independent meaning to the narrative and the images.
In dream interpretation, depending on the dream, the narrative may be more important than the imagery your mind uses to construct the narrative.
There are four basic kinds of dream
1. “The Pizza Dream”
I call it the pizza dream, because if I have a spicy pizza late at night, I’m likely to have weird dreams. But the dreams don’t really mean anything.
With bad food recently consumed in my body approaching sleep, my digestive system slows, causing that intensely unhealthy food to sort of flood my body with all of its badness. As these chemicals flood the brain and the body tries to jettison the junk, all sorts of interesting images will flash through the mind. In this unhealthy state, whatever narrative the brain constructs is likely nonsense.
Of course, other things besides pizza can cause the body to react like this. Alcohol, cold medicine, desserts… you get the idea.
Shocking your body or numbing your mind with weird chemicals right before going to sleep triggers all sorts of weirdness, and the brain does its best to construct a narrative to make sense of it. These dreams tend to not seem very real, are in dull colors and are best ignored.
2. “Working stuff out” dreams.
These dreams tend to seem real and are in normal color. For most people, most dreams fall into this category.
As your mind defrags in good sleep, images will be recycled and sometimes your brain will piece together these images into a narrative.
These narratives work out fears, hopes, stress, desires, and other emotional concerns. These narratives are from your own mind, such as your subconscious.
They can be quite revealing and point out important messages to you. Sometimes these dreams will offer solutions to problems or provide next steps.
Or they may highlight areas you need to work on, to consider, or reveal warnings that you’ve missed in the waking state. They may serve a therapeutic function.
Your subconscious is sending your conscious mind messages, and its worth paying attention to them. But these dreams aren’t from God. They’re your own mind at work.
It’s just how God designed our minds to function, and therefore, worth paying attention to them.
3. Demonic Dreams
These dreams tend to be in greyscale or black and white, or perhaps with very muted colors. They come from spiritual forces that aren’t aligned with God: generally demons, but potentially from other kinds of spirits as well.
They are often mocking and terrifying. They can involved physical or sexual assaults by demons.
Don’t trust them.
The images often come from outside ourselves, and the narrative your mind constructs from these images should not be trusted. Your mind is picking up on spiritual information from the enemy. Record it. Take notes. Pay attention to it, but don’t put your trust in it.
If you have a dream that is like this and you have some sort of control, call on the personal presence of Jesus Christ to rescue you. Even if you can only do this in your mind, you’ll receive some help.
4. Dreams from God
These dreams tend to be in vivid and full color. They seem more real than the other dreams, fully immersive, fully emotional, sometimes eye-poppingly real. They are prophetic, not that they are predicting the future, but provide a message to you from God.
Dreams from God can take many forms. Sometimes they come from angels that the Lord has released. Sometimes from the Holy Spirit. Some people have personal visitations of Jesus. In fact, many former Muslims were personally visited by Jesus Christ in dreams, and turned away from their former religion to become a follower of Jesus.
Some dreams from God don’t involve personal visitations, but the imagery comes from outside yourself, and your brain easily constructs the narrative.
Pay attention to these dreams. Journal them. Share them with someone close to you, and consider what they might mean. When in doubt, ask the Holy Spirit to provide an interpretation.
5. Dreams from the Spirit Realm
Seers in particular will have dreams that originate from the spirit realm. These dreams include images and narrative that aren’t in your mind at all. The images and the narrative are coming from outside you. They tend to be very real, as in the dreams from God. They can be terrifying.
I classify these kinds of dreams separately from those from God because they may not necessarily convey a message to you from God or even from another spirit. Instead, your mind – that cosmic radio into the spirit realm – is picking up signals from the spirit realm, and your mind does its best to construct a narrative from the signals.
When trying to interpret these dreams, it’s important to realize that events in the spirit realm look vastly different than they do in the physical realm. Your mind will interpret these in a highly symbolic manner.
Journal and consider them, but remember that these aren’t to be interpreted literally.
A couple years ago, while going through an intense period in my life, I dreamed I was in World War 2, rowing across a lake in a pontoon boat with other soldiers at night, heading to a city on the other side, buildings with darkened windows. Bullets intensely whizzed around us, killing some people in the boat. I rolled over the side of the boat into the water, but hung on and paddled the boat forward, getting low, taking cover, thinking I was dead meat. Everyone was killed but me, but I made it to the other side and scrambled up the bank and found cover in a building. I remember looking out a shattered window across the lake. Tracers flashed across the lake, but I was safe. And then I woke up, my heart pounding, still fearful and breathless.
I journaled it right away, but the dream was so intense, so insanely real, I knew I might never forget it.
I felt it was a message from God – but potentially this was a dream my mind was picking up from the spirit realm. I knew that in my awful situation, I was under spiritual attack, but I would make it to the other side safely. Six months later, we emerged safely from our tribulation.
Believe me, during that time, I held onto the promise in that dream. It also directed me to pray that we would get through the other side safely.
Some people receive warning dreams about other people or even other nations. In the case of warning dreams, the Lord is revealing to you messages only he knows about the future. Take these dreams as instruction, telling you how you should pray.
And then actually pray for them, intensely. You don’t even need to tell them that you are praying for them.
But in some cases, you might engage some people in conversation about your dreams. For instance, if you dreamed someone was going to be in a car wreck, you might call them up and say, “I had a dream about you last night. I dreamed you were in a car wreck. Can I pray protection over you? And please drive safely, okay?”
If you dream something good, let them know, and also pray that it comes about.
Take these prophetic messages as instruction from the Lord to pray. I also encourage you to journal these dreams… even jotting a just a few notes is helpful… and as you activate your gifts from the Lord, he’ll begin revealing you prophetic words in your waking state as
When trying to interpret dreams, consider how Jesus used parables to teach messages. Too often, we want to read a parable too allegorical. This isn’t how parables were meant to be understood. Not every point in a parable has an allegorical meaning. What was important in a parable is the overall narrative.
The overall narrative offers the symbolic meaning Jesus wanted to convey. Often, dreams function as parables from the Lord to us.
When you consider your dreams, look for the overall narrative. Because imagery from the Lord tends to be quite clear, our minds often don’t have to make stuff up to construct a narrative: the narrative is self-evident. It’s obvious.
But the narrative is usually symbolic, and not literal.
Keys to Interpretation
For instance, consider the dreams that many people in America are having:a giant tsunami coming from God across the East Coast. I’ve heard numerous interpretations that involve this being a judgement sent by God to kill millions.
But such an interpretation violates what Paul said about God.
In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We import you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God! 2 Cor 5:19-20
God isn’t mad at the world anymore. He’s not sending out waves of judgement. He’s not slaughtering people because of their sin. That’s why Jesus died on the Cross. God reconciled the world to him already through Jesus Christ and the Cross.
Therefore, interpreting the tsunami dream as a judgment from God to kill millions is a false interpretation. It violates more than just this passage in 2 Corinthians. It violates what we know about God, the Cross, the New Covenant, and the Kingdom. See Hearing God for more on that.
Therefore the concept of God slaying millions through a tsunami is a poor one.
So what does the dream mean? It’s pretty obvious to me. A tsunami of the Holy Spirit is going to swarm across the nation, “killing” millions… this means millions will suddenly give their lives to God, thus dying and then being born again! There’s a great awakening coming to the East Coast of the United States!
Spiritual Powers are Real
This isn’t to say that spiritual powers don’t wreck havoc through natural disasters. Certainly, there are powers and principalities, spiritual forces of darkness and cosmic powers that have significant influence, and they wage war at times, sometimes through catastrophic natural disasters. But these natural disasters aren’t from God.
Spiritual powers have free will and unfortunately, too many Christians partner with these demonic forces to release savage judgements against people they don’t like. When Jesus said, “whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” he meant it. He granted his power and authority to Christians, who too quickly release judgement against others. It’s time these judgmental and angry Christians stop partnering with demons to release judgement and start partnering with the Holy Spirit to release the Kingdom of God.
As there is more to say on dream interpretation, this series – originally planned as a 4 parter – will continue.