‘In the dream, in a night vision, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumberings upon one’s bed; then He opens mankind’s ears and seals their instruction…..’
Job 33 v 15-16
In the previous chapter we examined the phenomenon of visions and their relevance to the spiritual walk. I now want to investigate the role of dreams in such a journey.
I’d been a follower of Yeshua for more than 40 years before I discovered this strange, almost hidden quote from the Jewish book of Job. I wonder why? One possible reason may be its liberating suggestion that Divine communication may not be dependent on a sermon or homily from a professional preacher. In the judgement of the priestly class it may be too dangerous for people to hear God’s Voice for themselves.
In ancient societies dreams were understood to be a means of communication from the gods; today many native peoples still hold to that premise. We in the West, following the arrival of 20th century psychology and its cohort neuroscience, have concluded that the ancient practice of dream interpretation as a channel of Divine messaging was no more than superstition. Yet the fact remains that scientists still can’t fully explain the dream phenomenon; we just believe they can.
As with visions most Western religious adherents are deeply suspicious of anything outside the intellectual framework of faith. Letting go of the conscious mind’s control is seen as a no-go area. ‘You never know what could happen?’ we’re warned. We hear horror stories of folk who think they’re Napoleon, Joan of Arc or even more terrible, Jesus Christ Himself.
As a result we shy away from our subconscious minds believing that if we stuff our heads full of ‘good Bible teaching’ then God should be able to get through to us. Before continuing let me emphatically reassure you that I believe Divine Spirit can communicate through the Bible or a sermon based on it if He so chooses. Hence my Evangelical friends can continue to sleep easily in their theological beds.
So let’s use a question and answer session once more to get to the bottom of the spiritual dream.
Can dreams be a Scriptural form of Divine communication?
Yes. See the above quote from Job and note the numerous dreams within both Jewish and Christian Scriptures. You’ll be surprised at how many dreams are hidden in there that we simply overlook or spiritualize away, Jacob’s angelic ladder being one of the most famous. Young Joseph rose to political power due to his God-given ability to interpret Pharoah’s nightmares. So too with the Babylonian captive Daniel.
But surely the New Testament is different?
No. Many of the leading New Testament characters recounted dreams, interpreting them as Divine communication. Mary’s future husband Joseph, Pilate’s wife and the mystically inclined Saint Paul. There are others.
Are all dreams Divine messages?
Personally I don’t think so. Scientists claim that dreams are merely brain’s activity that safely files away the day’s new data. I can live with that for some dreams, especially after I’ve eaten a late night cheesy pizza!
What sets apart a dream with a message?
In my experience I often wake up from a significant dream with a start. They’re easy to recall and seem to have made their way firmly into the conscious mind.
What is the source of such messages?
I believe there are two sources – our Higher Self/ ‘I’ and Divine Spirit.
Can you clarify these two sources?
Often we mistakenly believe that we consist only of our conscious self. This controlling conscious self can often suppress information coming from the hidden realms of our Higher and Lower unconscious. A dream soured here is usually trying to get an important message across to me that will adjust and realign my inner life.
It may be a warning that my health is suffering due to suppressed emotion or memories. My primal wounding, often created by childhood trauma, is activating this dream warning system so I can take restorative action. I view these dreams as a kind of internal sprinkler system trying to put out the hidden fires that lie deep within my psyche.
Nightmares tend to originate in our Lower unconscious whereas positive, life enhancing dreams tend to spring from the Higher unconscious. This last area may be the home of spirit – the transpersonal aspect of Self that merges with the Divine.
Other dreams definitely seem to originate with the Divine Spirit, flowing down through the slopes of our Higher unconscious towards the awaiting conscious mind. Unlike our internal dreams these phenomena are birthed by an outside Intelligence known in religious parlance as God or Holy Spirit.
How can one distinguish between Divine and internal psychic messages?
Both kinds are important but a Divine message will usually have a future ‘vision’ element to it. Divinely sourced dreams are usually life affirming without any hint of fear. Strangely, they also tend to be in colour. Perhaps Spirit, as Creator, prefers not to work with the shadowy world of our internal grey dreams, instead activating the colour pixels to make our dream particularly lucid and alive; one that we’re unlikely to forget. Each person, of course, may be different but those dreams that I’ve interpreted for others that seem to be Divinely sourced are usually delivered in glorious Technicolor.
Why does God have to send me a dream?
The Divine loves to communicate with us, not just on Sundays but at all times. What stops this flow of communication is the blockage mechanism of the conscious mind which itself plays an important role in enabling us to function in the ‘material’ world. Often, however, such a mind dominates our essential Being by filtering out messages sent via our Higher unconscious.
Mystics, I believe, are those who’ve been able to realign the conscious mind into its proper place within the psyche thus releasing Higher forms of communication flow.
If Spirit can’t get through to us by conscious means then He/She will visit us when the defensive shield of our conscious mind is down i.e. when we’re asleep. Spirit’s goal as suggested by Job, is to open our ears, in other words to help us listen. If we don’t listen to the small, still Voice in our waking hours then it will communicate visually and audibly in a short dream clip.
What should I do with a dream upon waking?
If you can recall anything from your dream then write it down in a dream journal. More of the dream may reveal itself to the conscious mind later in the day if you use your waking memories as a handle on the dream. Ponder over it and don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to do so. You’re not being weird but trying to tune into the message that your psyche or Spirit is delivering to you. If assimilated such a message will enrich your life, maybe even bringing major changes in your Journey.
How do I interpret my dream? Do I need to buy a dream interpretation book? Do I need someone else to interpret it forme?
Dreams are deeply personal phenomena and like all pictorial revelation will usually be symbolic in nature. I find the multitude of dream interpretation books a big turn off – symbols appear to mean different things to different authors? How confusing is that!
If you’re just beginning to interpret your dreams, as with visions, ask Spirit for the interpretation. Be patient and the significance of the main players/events within the dream will pop into your conscious mind.
Another tip is to steep yourself in the imagery of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. If you’ve experienced a dream in which you’re riding a horse Scripture imagery can help you out?
Being on horseback is symbolic of holding authority. For example, The Horsemen in the Revelation of John were sent out with Divine authority to release certain events on Earth. God may be encouraging you to take authority, perhaps even Divine authority, in a particular situation that you’re presently facing. Remember Kings rode horses while foot-soldiers had to walk.
If you don’t feel comfortable interpreting your own dreams, try to find a genuinely spiritual friend who has some experience of revelatory gifts. He or she may be able to point you in the right direction but remember the dream is yours and you don’t require a guru to reveal the Divine mind. Perhaps talk the dream over with such a soul mate; if they think your interpretation is way out then be cautious. They may just be correct.
What will be the outcome of the interpretation?
Like visions, dreams are sent for a specific reason. They may point out present or approaching danger. By the way if you appear to die in a dream don’t panic; it usually represents the death of a psychological attachment within your psyche, not a physical death.
Usually dreams are sent for encouragement, revealing that you you are on the right track, the path of Wisdom. They also empower you by helping you to see yourself in a new way. For example, if you see yourself flying in a dream it may mean that you have heightened spiritual perception and can hear the Divine Voice. In some cases it may suggest that you’ve received a revelatory gifting for the service of others.
Job suggests that dreams can give sealed up instruction. The sealing may suggest a future purpose when the dream will be applicable. The unsealing may refer to the interpretation process that may take a little time, become clearer at future date.
What about repetitive dreams?
These would appear to be dreams of great depth that reveal a continual lesson that we’re finding difficult to absorb into our busy lives. I tend to believe that they originate in our Higher or Lower unconscious, revealing strong Primal Wounding issues. The repetition is a means of progressively healing us from such wounds or a sign that we may need further help by a trained and trusted therapist.
Can you relate one of your own dreams?
Of course. In my book The Prodigal Prophet I relate the following dream that proved extremely powerful in a stressful time of confusion and turmoil. It appears to be presently coming to fruition as I blog and write.
Here it is:
I was sitting in my parked car in Priory Hill Road, a street near my childhood home. As I sat there with the window rolled down a substitute history teacher from my old school approached me. He politely asked what I was going to do, now that I’d retired from teaching. I confidently replied, “I’m going to speak to people about the Lord”. I was as surprised by my reply in the dream as my ex-colleague. Being the disillusioned son of a retired clergyman he was a card carrying atheist and a very cynical one at that. At that point in the dream a police patrol car pulled up behind me and parked. I was convinced that the two police officers were coming to speak to me but instead they crossed the street and entered a nearby house. I suddenly looked down at my car clock and noticed it was 9.10 a.m. I quickly apologised to my teacher friend saying that I’d have to leave as I was late. Starting the car I drove off at speed.
As I lay in the stillness of the night the interpretation slowly came to me point by point.
The car was my life’s purpose.
At present I seemed to be going nowhere. I was resting close by, but not in, the religious world as represented by the close vicinity of Ballybrigg Priory.
My verbal response to the teacher’s question was my prophetic call to speak Divine Love into peoples’ lives.
I was replying to a history teacher’s question suggesting that my future purpose would be somehow bound up with my own personal history.
The policemen represented two of the authority figures that I’d experienced in my adult life as model obstacles; they would no longer bother me and be the focus of my life. The clock reading was highly significant.
9.10a.m. represented the end time of the designated pastoral period in my present school. During this fifteen minute period I’d be bombarded with the pastoral problems of both pupils and staff. My problem solving pastoral life within both the educational and religious worlds was now over.
Starting the car and heading off represented a new direction and purpose in my life that would become clearer in time.
Needless to say this dream deeply touched me, coming along as it did, exactly when I needed it. Could Divine Love really be so specific in its instructions? Is it trying to regularly reach others through dreams as they sleep? Can the Divine encourage, strengthen and sometimes warn through such dreams? My answer to all three questions was and still is an emphatic Yes.
May 15, 2010 by Dylan Morrison ~ the Prodigal Prophet