IRA MILLIGAN and his wife, Judy, have served God since 1962. In 1986 they founded Servant Ministries, Inc. They travel and present such seminars as: Dreams and Their Interpretation; Counseling and Inner Healing; Spiritual Warfare; and Prophets and Personal Prophecy. Ira has taught classes on counseling as a guest lecturer at Oral Roberts University. He and his wife have raised four children and have ten grandchildren. They currently reside in Tioga, Louisiana. His website iswww.servantministriesinc.com.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Understanding God's Communication
UNDERSTANDING AND APPLYING DREAM SYMBOLS
BY IRA MILLIGAN
As I travel across the country teaching about dreams and their interpretations, I constantly marvel at the number of Christians who don't realize God is speaking to them through their dreams. The Bible promises us that in these last days God will communicate with us this way: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams" (Acts 2:17).
Dreams come in two basic forms; literal and symbolic. Literal dreams usually come to pass just as they are observed, but symbolic dreams have to be interpreted before they are of any use. It is in this area that most Christians have trouble. Although interpreting dreams is a skill that is easily mastered, very few Christians have disciplined themselves to learn how.
Interpreting dreams is simply a matter of learning a few basic rules and mastering the proper use and meaning of symbols. Although there is no "one" fixed meaning for each symbol because all carry both positive and negative meanings, there is a way of knowing the specific meaning of symbols as they are applicable in your personal dreams by evaluating both their personal and inherent meanings. The most common way symbols acquire meaning is through the dreamer's personal experience. So, regardless of what the symbol is (person, animal, object, action, color, number, etc.), always ask yourself, "What does this symbol mean to me?" Since you're the one dreaming, you are the final authority on the symbol's meaning.
The second most common meaning for any given symbol is found in its own, inherent characteristics. For example, in both dreams and visions, a snake usually represents a demon. That's the way Jesus used "serpents" in Luke 10:19. That meaning fits them well because, like Satan, they strike without provocation and their bite can be deadly. Their forked tongue has been a symbol for lying for centuries, and their ability to sneak and hide clearly reflects the devil's deceitfulness. Nevertheless, a snake can even represent Jesus (see Numbers 21:4-9)! In that case, the proper word for the serpent is curse, because Jesus became a curse for us.
It is important to know that when deciphering dreams, nothing is more important than correct application. Application is what determines (or enables) the correct interpretation. Since most dreams pertain to the person dreaming, trying to understand a dream without knowing the necessary, supporting information surrounding the dreamer's life can be an exercise in futility. Of course sometimes the dream itself reveals the necessary information, and in those cases a proper interpretation can be given simply from the action and symbols contained within the dream. Most of our dreams are but a snapshot in time. Sometimes they portray things from the distant past, or they may even show future events before they actually come to pass, but usually they refer directly to what is going on in the dreamer's life at the time they are given.
So, another helpful question to ask ourselves when interpreting dreams is this: "Is this dream referring to the past, present or future?" To obtain the correct answer, first check out the dream's setting. Where did it take place and who are the people in it? Often the most important key is in the first scene. If its setting is in the past (old family dwelling, grandfather's house, etc.), it's probably pointing backward in time. In other words, God is dealing with the dreamer about his or her past. Dreaming of our backyard is a simple way of saying yesterday. Trouble that comes in through the back door is nearly always coming from the past. Although these directions in time are simple, they're frequently overlooked.
Obviously, the opposite of past is future. When a dream refers to one's future, we usually say it's prophetic. In the same way that one's backyard can reflect one's past, one's front yard may predict future events. Sometimes these events are current, already in progress; sometimes the dream is showing that they will shortly come to past.
If you are one of those who are not accustomed to paying attention to dreams you are really missing out! God's ways are wonderful. Don't let the deceiver rob you any longer. Start a dream journal. Write your dreams down and get alone with God for a time of prayer and meditation. He is faithful to answer and no respecter of persons. Jesus said: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. 7:7).
If you pray and ask Him for wisdom, and seek Him for understanding, He will help you interpret what He has revealed to you. Be consistent and persistent and He will explain all things to you just like He did to His first disciples: "But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples" (Mark 4:34). Sweet Dreams!