Christian dream interpretation is a matter of determining what your dreams mean from a Christian perspective, often using symbols found in the Bible as references. The matter of dream interpretation has a long history in Judeo-Christianity. In the Old Testament, Jacob saw a ladder ascending up into heaven, and wrestled with an angel in his dream. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream of seven skinny cows eating up seven fat cows to mean that there would be seven years of plenty and then seven years of famine. This Biblical dream interpretation impressed Pharaoh so much that he made Joseph his right-hand man, and thus Joseph was able to save all of Egypt from famine, and his family as well when they came asking for food.
Interpretations Come From God
Daniel, too, interpreted dreams. In the New Testament, Jesus’ foster-father Joseph was warned in a dream to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape Pharaoh’s slaughter of the baby boys, and the Magi who had come guided by the star also were warned in a dream not to return by way of Jerusalem to tell Herod the whereabouts of Jesus. Pontius Pilate’s wife had a dream about Jesus before his trial, and sent Pilate a message telling him, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream, because of him.” (Matthew 27:19) Over and over, God sends messages to people in dreams, and good things come to those who listen to the messages that are sent to them in their dreams.
Despite the Biblical evidence for dream interpretation, there is still controversy about whether Biblical dream interpretation is valid or even allowable for Christians. Some people make reference to the Witch of Endor, whom Saul asked to bring Samuel back from the dead and thus lost his blessing to rule the kingdom, as evidence against dream interpretation or other forms of superstition. Others contradict this claim, stating that if dream interpretation were simply a superstition, God would not have sent dreams to so many of our Biblical heroes, nor would there be verses referring to dream prophecies. While some modern Christians do not believe in dreams, there is nevertheless a strong Christian tradition and belief that God can talk to you in your dreams.
Interpreting Christian Dreams
When interpreting the symbols you see in your dream in a Christian context, the meanings may vary depending on your sect or belief system. This is not because God is inconsistent; instead, it is because He uses language you can understand to speak to you. Because of the differences in faith traditions even within Christianity, one symbol may have a different meaning from one person to another. For instance, a nun’s habit may mean something different to a Catholic than to a Baptist – though in either case it symbolizes a literal nun, a woman who has devoted her life to God, for a Catholic it may mean a vocation to the religious life, while to someone who is not Catholic, the symbol may simply mean a life of sacrifice, simplicity, and charity.
If you hear someone speaking directly to you, you should always pay attention, especially if the dream has had other Christian dream symbols or Biblical dream symbols in it. The Christian tradition has a strong belief in the voice of God or the angels speaking through dreams, and you do not want to ignore a message that was sent to you specifically. If you feel that you are being spoken to through your dreams, you ought to keep a dream diary to record God’s messages to you. The gift of prophecy is sometimes given in dreams, as in Numbers 12:6: “Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.” Many Christians make decisions about their future based on dreams, and for many this leads them to great success.
So how do you know what the Christian or Biblical interpretation of your dream is? First, it helps to know your Bible and to be familiar with the stories within it. The symbols that appear in your dreams may refer to Biblical stories that you know, or they may be stories that you don’t yet know, which will make your dream make sense once you learn it. God’s plans often work around teaching us new things, and He may send you dreams specifically to make you go and research them. Here are a few Biblical dream symbols you may encounter and the stories behind them.
Bread and Wine: This is a symbol of the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples, in which he said of the bread “This is my body” and of the wine “This is my blood.” To Catholics, this is taken literally, so that during the Mass the bread is believed to literally change into the body of Jesus and the wine to change into the blood of Jesus. For most other denominations, this is taken symbolically, to mean that Jesus left his spirit with us symbolically, and that he is present spiritually rather than physically when the Lord’s Supper is shared. In a dream, bread and wine represent fellowship and unity with the people around you; they also represent a strong spiritual presence of Jesus. As a symbol of the Passover, they represent deliverance from trials and suffering, as the Hebrews ate unleavened bread the night that the Angel of Death passed over Egypt, the night before they were set free from the bondage of slavery.
Burning Bush: Moses saw the Burning Bush when he was exiled in the desert, and from the Burning Bush he heard the voice of God telling him to go and free the Hebrews from enslavement to Pharaoh in Egypt. Seeing a burning bush in your dream is a sign of a message from God. Take this sign and the message with it seriously. Alternatively, it could indicate a call to do something difficult and scary, which you feel unqualified and unable to do. This is a sign that you should trust in God; that He will act through you and not give you anything to do that you cannot do with His help.
Candles: Candles are a liturgical symbol with many meanings. Bringing light into the darkness, being the light of the world, and being a guiding light are some of the meanings of the Christian dream symbol of a candle.
Fish: A fish is a symbol of Christianity. The early Christians would use the symbol of the fish to identify themselves to each other, especially during the Roman persecution when it was unsafe to openly identify yourself as a Christian for fear of being arrested and put to death. Jesus performed several miracles involving fish, including the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and the massive catch of fish that he gave Peter when he called him. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples cooking fish on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and he broke bread with them. As a culture in a location between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Ocean, fish was very important to the Hebrews.
Flowers: In Biblical dream interpretations, flowers are a reference to the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus held up the lilies of the valley as a paradigm for how Christians should be: “They toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” If you see flowers in your dream, this is a sign to trust in God to take care of you.
Lamb: A lamb may be a reference to the verse, “The lion shall lie down with the lamb.” It may also be a symbol of Jesus, who in the Gospels referred to himself as the Good Shepherd and in Revelations was referred to as the Lamb of God. In addition, the lamb symbolizes meekness and docility, as Christians are supposed to be meek and gentle to each other and to follow God’s will like lambs.
Lion: Another symbol of Jesus, who is also called the Lion of Judah.
Rainbow: The rainbow is a reference to the story of the flood, when Noah saved the animal and human life of the world by bringing two animals of each species onto the Ark along with his family, and it rained for forty days and forty nights. When the flood was over, God promised Noah that he would never again send another flood to destroy humanity, and he set his rainbow in the sky in token of his covenant. Dreaming of a rainbow is sign of hope and trust in God’s promises. It is a reassurance that God will not let you down, even if circumstances look dire, and that He wants what is best for you.