Paula isn’t the first person I have seen trying to codify this idea that you could probably create a Dream Dictionary to understand what God is saying to us. She makes this sweeping statement that some things have universal meaning to them- which isn’t true.
Let’s take Birds as an example. Birds are messengers in some cultures, symbols of freedom in others. They can mean good luck or bad luck. Some birds have specific functions. Take the Woodpecker. In Pueblo culture it foretells rain, some Native American groups saw it as being the bringer of fire to mankind. The Sparrow in Catholic tradition is a sign of humbleness, but in Japan represents fertility.
So maybe the bird is the outlier? Let’s try trees. In Korea, a newborn tree is said to hold the soul of a woman who died in childbirth. Judaism has been known to plant trees in remembrance of loved ones that passed on. Some stories have trees which carry great wisdom, the Arab world contends that some sacred trees have Djinns within them. Trees are associated with magical powers in some cultures. And in the Prophet’s Handbook, trees represent nations planted by God.
Now Paula makes an argument that the Bible specifically tells us what these symbols mean, and therefore you can use that information to discern what your visions mean. But let me challenge that.
‘As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.’
‘“I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: ‘
I’m curious, if you ask Paula about this, would she simply say that Daniel wasn’t skilled enough? Despite being the only person that just a few chapters before was able to deliver on the nearly impossible mission asked of by Nebuchadnezzar?
If the language is the same, it should be easy to codify. But what we tend to see in the Bible is something different. In fact, it looks a lot like the description of tongues. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14, tells us that tongues need to be interpreted in order to get any benefit from it. As long as you know what the tongue means, you’ll be able to benefit from it, but if you don’t know what it means, you should pray that you are able to recieve an interpretation of the tongue- which may come from someone else, or God directly revealing it to you.
Now apply that information to Daniel’s situation above. God simply didn’t give him the interpretation. It’s not because the elements of the vision weren’t in the dream dictionaries, so-to-speak, it’s because God specifically didn’t reveal to him the interpretation. As to why God didn’t, we could only speculate. Maybe the purpose was to humble Daniel, maybe it was to encourage him that others around him were God-Fearing, maybe it was because God wanted Daniel to share the vision with another person. Daniel really doesn’t tell us what value there was in another person interpreting the vision for him, all he tells us is that he kept it to himself afterwards.
So it’s not that Daniel was ignorant of God’s language, it’s that God didn’t give him the interpretation. And this is reflected in other stories across the Bible. Dream Interpreters, such as Daniel and Joseph, don’t rely on their own understanding. Each of these interpreters make it known (not verbatim) “I cannot tell you what the interpretation is, it is God who has the interpretation, and He has revealed it”.
So here we have it, we cannot possibly know the interpretation based on a some sort of dictionary. We might be able to find fingerprints of God written into the dream or vision which declare it IS God rather than some other spirit (including our own), but there doesn’t seem to be any conformity to what we see in dreams or visions.
Knowing all of this, the question becomes: Then what should I do if I have a dream or vision that I seem to feel strongly about?
‘And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?”
Although this passage is more about consulting other beings, I think it can also be applied in the case of a Dream or Vision. The only book we could really consult is the Bible, and even then the answers will not always be in there. So going to God, and asking for Him to give you an interpretation is probably our best option in the modern age.
Now, I’m not one to typically write up a prayer for others to use, but in this particular situation, I think it might be helpful if I give you a model for a prayer I would use for such an occasion.
Heavenly Father, exalted is your name. I come before you with my heart open and ready to listen to all you have to say. I have had a dream/vision which I do not understand, and I can only ask you for an interpretation. If it is Your will that I am made aware of the interpretation, I pray that it will be this night, I willing accept what it is you wish to tell me. If it is not your will, I humbly ask that you free me from temptation to seek it’s interpretation, for in seeking it I risk turning away from your kingdom. Amen.
Whether you recieve an interpretation or not, always thank God in the morning for His wisdom in dealing with the matter.
The reason I word mine the way I do, is because I don’t trust myself to not create my own interpretation through the focus of the dream state. It has happened before. But by asking God to keep me from temptation, I’m asking God to intervene and keep me from misinterpreting my own spirit as being His spirit. Keeping it down to a timeline (a single night) gives me the peace of mind that if God wants to give me an interpretation, I know that any interpretation which comes after this night is not from God, and therefore I can walk away from the dream entirely.