When I was a young man, I had a dream, a vision. In the dream, I was in a rowboat on the Pacific ocean, and I was rowing to the shore in California. I got out of the boat, pulled it up on the sand, walked over, and climbed the headland. I then began a journey that took me across America until I stood in another headland looking down at the Atlantic ocean. Where there on the seashore, I saw another rowboat. Somehow I knew I had to climb down the cliff, get into the rowboat, and begin to row out into the Atlantic ocean. And thus the end of the dream. What did it mean? I was living in Australia at the time. Did it mean I had to row across the Pacific ocean to California? Obviously, if I had tried to do that, I wouldn’t be writing this Langstaff Letter today. Rather, I would probably have drowned somewhere in the ocean. So if it wasn’t literal, what did it mean? I will tell you the answer at the end of this letter, but meanwhile, let us take a look at how to understand dreams and visions.
DREAMS IN THE BIBLE
The Bible has many dreams, especially in the Old Testament. Let’s note a few of them. Joseph had two dreams in Genesis about his position in the future, particularly regarding his family. One involved sheaves of grain and the other the sun, moon, and stars. In their own way, they revealed God’s providence.
Other dreams involved leaders like Nebuchadnezzar and the prophet Daniel. Then there was Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew, who had a dream from God revealing that Mary would have a son, who was to be called Jesus. Joseph was also later warned in a dream to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt and to stay there until he received another dream indicating it was time to return to Galilee.
There are some significant verses regarding dreams in the Bible, including:
- Numbers 12:6 “Hear now my words. Is there a prophet among you. I the Lord make Myself known to him in a vision. I speak to him in a dream.”
- Acts 2:17 “Your old men shall dream dreams.” This was part of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost.
Dreams became less frequent in the New Testament. Bible teacher David Jeremiah’s comments about this change when he writes, “In the Bible, dreams are mentioned more than eighty times, almost all of them in the Old Testament. That should provide a clue as to how God has used dreams. As more of His revelation came by the Spirit and through the Word, the less frequent the need to communicate by dreams. But for the pagan world, dreams were often used by God to communicate His intent to rulers like Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2) and Pharaoh (Genesis 41).”
How should we interpret dreams today? I have used three main points when interpreting dreams:
- Dreams are normally personal. Even if your dream involves other people, the dreams are usually about yourself in some way.
- Dreams are usually symbolic and not to be taken literally. Remember my dream about the rowboat. That dream was symbolic and not to be taken as a literal directive.
- Dreams need to be interpreted, and we need to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and insight as to what they mean.
James W Goll, a well-known prophet, wrote an excellent short article on Dream Interpretation in Charisma, where he states 15 keys to help you to simplify the process of dream interpretation. For example, in key #5, he states, “Ask the Holy Spirit what the central thought, word, or issue is in the revelation. Reduce the dream to its simplest form. What is the main thought?” He went on to make the comment, “Dreams are significant to all people-every society, culture, creed and color has dreamers. Dreams are a venue God uses to move a divine purpose from His heart and mind so that it can become a reality in our story.
Dreams are where space and time are pushed away, where God allows our inner selves to see beyond and behind the conscious plane and where possibilities and hopes, as well as our hidden ungodly beliefs come out” (charismamag.com).
INTERPRETING MY DREAM
Concerning the dream I shared at the beginning of this Langstaff Letter, I sought the Lord and felt He showed me the meaning of it all.
The Pacific Ocean represented eternity past; my arrival on the shore in California represented my birth; the moment when I stood on the headland overlooking the Atlantic Ocean represented the end of my life, and the Atlantic Ocean represented eternity future. As I stood there on the headland, I could look back and reflect on the journey across America, which represented my life, seeing all that had happened along the way. It was like the Lord spoke to me saying, “One day you will get there and what you will see when you look back over your life will depend upon the decisions you make today and every day from now on.”
A CLOSING THOUGHT
You too will one day stand on that headland. What will you see? We only have but one life to live and one life to give to the Lord. What will each of us see that day when we come to the end of our lives. Let us not hold back, but give it all to the Lord and look forward to that day so that God will say, ‘Well done good and faithful servant. . . . Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).