Lately many people have been asking about interpreting dreams from God, specifically when it comes to dreams about dating and their future marriage. Another common question that has been coming in lately is about prophesy. For example, someone “prophesied over” over a guy and told him something specific that they “saw” in his future like, “I see you surrounded by a woman and lots of children.”
So what do you do when something like this happens to you? How much weight should you give to dreams you have about dating, dreams you have about your future marriage, and “prophesies” that people speak over you about your relationship future?
God Can Do Whatever He Wants, But He Normally Speaks Through His Word, in Prayer, and Through His People
I admittedly come from a more reformed perspective. However, unlike many reformed Christians, I am not here to cast stones at charismatic Christians. So while I will lean differently that those with a more liberal view on Scripture and the gifts of the Spirit, I am a continuationist and not a cessationist.
I also do not want to put God in a box and say he can and cannot speak in certain ways. So I believe God can give you a dream that actually means something and I believe God can give some glimpse of something about your future as a way to warn or help you. However, I don’t believe this normally happens and if it does occur I believe there will also be certain qualifiers around all this, which we will discuss shortly.
I appreciate John Piper’s definition of New Testament prophecy. He explains that there is perfect prophecy that is recorded in Scripture. There is also false prophecy that totally contradicts Scripture and thus is not from God. But there is a third type of prophecy we experience today where we as Christians must sift through the biblical and unbiblical words of the man speaking. Piper states:
Prophecy in this “third category” (the New Testament gift of prophecy) is a regulated message or report in human words usually made to the gathered believers based on a spontaneous, personal revelation from the Holy Spirit for the purpose of edification, encouragement, consolation, conviction or guidance but not necessarily free from a mixture of human error, and thus needing assessment on the basis of the apostolic (Biblical) teaching and mature spiritual wisdom.”
The above type of prophecy is what I believe is most biblical in this season of God’s redemptive history. The reason I don’t believe God usually leads us anymore through dreams and someone’s prophetic words over us is because we live in a time where we have God’s word. The Holy Spirit wrote his words in the Bible for a reason. Therefore I believe dreams and supernatural events are more likely to occur in places where Christianity is new and the Bible is not as available.
If God Does Speak to Your Through a Dream or Prophesy, the Meaning Will Not Be Hidden and the Truth Will Be Confirmed in Scripture
If someone “spoke prophetic words over you” and told you something about your future marriage, you should be able to test what they said against the Scripture. If anyone proclaims something that contradicts the word of God, you know that word was not from God.
Whenever someone in the Bible was given a dream or a prophetic message, the interpretation was not hidden for long. God always provided a clear interpretation. The same is true when people spoke in tongues. There was always to be someone there who could interpret what was being said in tongues, otherwise the person should not be speaking in tongues publicly because it is not helping those who hear it if no one is there to interpret (1 Corinthians 14:27-28).
I believe these same principles should guide our questions about dreams and words from a prophet. If it’s confusing, it’s probably not God, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
There Are Many False Prophets, Thus There Are Many False Prophesies
There are many people who make prophesies and talk about their dreams because they want to be exalted amongst the people. The Bible says there are many false prophets and we should not believe everything someone says just because they claim to be a prophet:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
The surest test of a true prophet is if what they say aligns with what God has already clearly said in his word. There will never be “new” revelations. The second way to test a prophecy is to simply see if it occurs. If it does not happen, it was not from God. When God proclaims something, it always happens.
But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?’ 22 If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
This is why you should not put too much stock in a prophetic word about your future. If it happens, it happens. If not, it didn’t happen. Reality is reality (profound, I know). What’s the point of telling someone the future when there is no way to validate the authority of that “prophetic word” other than waiting for it to happen or not? When God gave us prophesies about the gospel and the coming of Christ, it was to show the greatness of God and to show he is in control. I think false prophets have the same motive; they want to be exalted and try to take control of people by telling them their futures (They are not really telling them the future. They are just guessing.)
The problem is when people value a “prophetic word” so much they start trying to make that word come true. Rather than the prophecy revealing their future, now this prophecy starts controlling their future. This is not right and it is a form of manipulation on the part of the prophet and a form of immaturity by the person.
Never Try to Fulfill a Prophesy
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when it comes to prophesy and Christian relationships is when someone feels the need to fulfill the prophesy that was spoken over them. That is definitely an unbiblical approach to how to use true prophesy from God.
If God really said something to you through someone else or in a dream, it is not your job to make that happen. It will happen without you trying to make it happen if God actually is behind it. Recently I talked to a guy who said that someone spoke words of prophesy over him and said he was going to get married and have a family. The problem is the man had all the signs of being called to singleness. He didn’t want to be married and he didn’t want to have children.
You can see why this man was confused. I told the man the most logical explanation is that this person was not speaking on God’s behalf. God will not tell someone his plans for your future while not revealing those plans to you. God doesn’t control your life through the words of others. That’s what cult leaders and false prophets try to do. They try to claim God told them something about you but in reality they just made it up and want you to try to fulfill this fake prophesy so you will actually be obeying their voice, not God’s voice.
Personally I don’t believe God speaks words about your future through other people very often. Again, I’m not saying God never does this or can’t do this. But to me it does not pass the biblical test of regularly occurring in Scripture for all Christians and being a command to practice for all Christians. Prayer, Bible reading, listening for the Holy Spirit to lead you in your heart, following the counsel of trusted Christian brothers and sisters – these are things we can clearly see in Scripture and we are commanded to practice these things.
I’m cautious of making supernatural events in the Bible things all Christians should regularly expect to experience in life. I don’t discount these super natural dreams, visions, and prophesies in Scripture, I just don’t believe the Bible says these will be a part of every Christians’ life like the normal means of grace are (Bible, prayer, fellowship, etc.).
Don’t Look for Supernatural Confirmation When You Need to Make a Simple Decision Already Explained in God’s Word
Yes, Mary, Elizabeth, their husbands, and many others like them in the Bible experienced God’s leading through dreams, visions, and angelic encounters. But they were also experiencing once-in-an-eternity kind of events. For example, when Mary and Joseph got a supernatural word from God, God himself was going to be born through a virgin birth. They needed a supernatural confirmation to authentic this supernatural experience. Without this no one would believe Mary was telling the truth of how she got pregnant.
You wondering if you should date someone is not the same thing. You don’t need a supernatural confirmation to make a very natural decision. God doesn’t need to send an angel to you in a dream when you are risking nothing for him and just simply have a question about a relationship.
Just read your Bible and obey what it says. If you are not breaking a command in Scripture and you feel in your Spirit God is not saying, “No,” then just go on a date. God often reveals his truth through the circumstances of life. When the relationship does not work out or you know you don’t like that person or that person does not like you, God has spoken. If it works out, you both are Christians, and you both want to keep dating, God has spoken. It’s not normal and it should not be expected to get a dream or a prophetic word about everything.
When you need the grand signs to make simple decisions, this is actually a lack of faith, not an expression of faith. When you know how things will turn out, the need for faith is gone. Faith is believing in what you cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). If God supernaturally confirms everything about your future marriage before it happens then he is taking the need for faith away from you. God wants us to have faith in him, therefore he will not give you a dream or signs in the sky every time you have a relationship question.
When we want God to tell us everything about our future before it happens, we are looking for a fortune teller not a prophet. A prophet will help you apply biblical truth to modern times. A fortune teller tells you what you want to hear so you will give them money. I’m not trying to be offensive and I’m not trying to put down any Christians who have a different view than me, I just see so many young people being led astray and taught wild things about dreams and interpretations by people who don’t know the Bible.
God has spoken! He gave his words to you in writing. It must be odd for God to look down on so many of us groping around in the night looking for the meaning of a dream we just had. He must raise an eyebrow now and then as we go up during the altar call at church and ask someone about our future. I imagine him saying, “I told them what I want them to do in writing and I am available to speak anytime in prayer. Why are they examining dreams when they haven’t read their Bibles and why are they asking strangers about what will happen in their futures?”
Mark Ballenger’s, Not God’s, Thoughts on the Use of Dreams
Now what I am going to do is just give you my opinion. I don’t have Bible verses to back this up, but I’m just going to apply logic to this question. So what can we learn from our dreams about relationships?
When my 5 year-old-son has a bad dream, I ask him to tell me what happened. Usually his dream is directly related to something he watched or something he experience in his life recently. Since he was thinking about something recently when he was awake, his brain created a dream about it. This is usually the case for all of us.
When we go to sleep, our brains and imaginations keep working. They use the thoughts and materials that are around to construct the dreams that we experience. So if you have been having lots of thoughts about Jason when you are awake, it’s not surprising that you are now having dreams about Jason when you are asleep. If you have been thinking about your ex-girlfriend, it’s natural to have a dream about your ex-girlfriend.
When you have thoughts about being with someone in a relationship, do you believe your thought is a sign God is telling you he wants you to marry that person? Probably not. Why? Because you know you just made that thought up yourself. Most times this should be the approach we have with our dreams. We should not assume God is sending us messages through our dreams when in reality our dreams are just a natural biological reaction to the types of thoughts and feelings we have been having lately.
Lots of times dreams are just weird and should not be examined. Every now and then, however, it is helpful to examine the types of dreams you have been having. I don’t believe it is wise to look for symbolic meaning about every detail in the dream like Daniel did with the statue in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2). When Daniel did this, he was not grasping at straws or just guessing. God gave him a clear, unmistakable revelation about this dream’s meaning. If you don’t have a clear, supernatural revelation from God then don’t try to do what Daniel did. But you might find it helpful to examine your dreams in general.
So if my son has a dream about a bear chasing him in the night, I’m not going to ask him, “Well what do you think the bear means? What does the night mean? And what color socks did you have on in the dream?” But I can use this dream to make a decision that he is not ready to watch nature shows with me anymore. If we just streamed a video about bears hunting prey, I can see from my son’s dream he should not watch these shows yet.
I remember when I was in high school I really liked this girl and had all the typical teenage thoughts about marrying her one day. So when it didn’t work out with her I was very sad for a season. But in time God began to help me move on. One night I had a dream where I was at this girls wedding and something went wrong but I helped fix the problem. Throughout the dream I had a feeling of happiness for her and her husband.
Now, it would be easy to read into every details of this dream and wonder what it all meant. I never became friends with this girl after that dream and I did not attend her wedding. I was not a part of her life at all. And I did not feel God used this dream to say, “She’s not the one.” I was still young and had no idea what God would do in my life at that time. But the feeling I had in that dream gave me some good general information about what God was doing in my life. When I woke up, I felt like God had shown me I was making progress in my heart because I was happy for her in that dream.
This is not a supernatural event in my opinion. My dream was just a natural reaction to the feelings that were inside of me. God had changed my heart towards her, therefore my brain created a dream that reflected my new feelings about her. I used to have thoughts and feelings about liking her. Now I had a dream about being happy for her marriage to someone else because those feelings had changed. In my opinion, the dream was a reflection of my thoughts and feelings. I’m open to being wrong. Maybe God will tell me once I go to heaven that dream was supernatural. But either way I know God was healing my heart during that time regardless of why I had that dream.
I also remember having a dream about my wife liking me at a time in our lives when we were just friends still and had not started dating. In the dream there were all these guys who wanted to dance with her at a wedding we were all attending. But she was saying no to all of them and waiting for me to dance with her. Again, it would have been easy to read into that dream and say this was a sign from God that we would be together. But guess what? I really liked her at that point and really wanted her to like me too. So it’s not surprising that I had a dream reflecting my emotions at that time in my life.
So my main point is that dreams can sometimes be used to give us clues to our own thoughts and feelings. I don’t think dreams should be used to tell us about our future. But I think they can be used to tell us something about our present. Your thoughts and feelings can be revealed in what type of dreams you are having.
If you are having lots of dreams about Joe, it could be God sending you a supernatural message. But it’s probably not. You are probably having lots of dreams about Joe because you have been thinking about Joe and have feelings for Joe. If you have a dream about a baby with blue eyes and red hair, this could be a sign from God Almighty that you will have a child who looks just like that because you are going to marry someone with Irish heritage. Or it could be that you have been thinking and praying about having a family one day and this was just the picture your brain dreamed up because you have been thinking about babies so much.
So most times I would not look into your dreams too much. Sometimes I would examine your dreams too see what general things you can learn about your thoughts and emotions. But you should always be praying and reading your Bible so you know for certain what God wants you to do in life, including in your Christian relationships.
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