Prophetic or Apocalyptic Dreams and Visions: How to Discern a Message from God
Ten years ago, I had a stunning and startling dream of apocalyptic proportion. This dream was so real, so bizarre and intense that I can recall every detail as if it happened just last night. This isn’t the first time that I’ve had a dream of this nature. There was one other, similar to this one that occurred ten years earlier. Both of these dreams had repeating elements, were apocalyptic in content, and left my soul profoundly marked with a haunting feeling that remained with me for many years afterward.
The dream from ten years ago starts off with my daughter and I attending a backyard barbeque. In the dream, my daughter was a teenager which at the time of its occurrence, would've set this event about ten years into the future. (It is important to note that I have two children, a son and a daughter who are ten years apart with my son being the eldest. I am equally close to both of them. Strangely, my son was not a participant in either dream.)
There were people mingling and conversing with each other seemingly enjoying themselves. I didn’t know any of them, and in the dream I had been invited by an acquaintance and went there knowing I wouldn’t personally know any of them but thought of it as an opportunity for a social outing and a chance to meet new friends.
My daughter and I were sitting on the patio’s concrete floor with our backs resting against the house. We sat there watching the people talk and laugh in this relaxed, jovial social setting. I remember feeling a bit awkward that we didn’t know anyone and became somewhat of an observer instead of a participant, my daughter seated by my side.
The sun had set and it became night and my attention was drawn to the full moon. The moon seemed so large and had a dark orange cast. "The moon seems way too big tonight," I thought to myself. It startled me and I quickly looked away as if to align my reasoning with what I just saw.
"I must have this wrong," I thought. So, in spite of my fear, I forced myself to look back at it again, keeping my composure as to not bring concern to my daughter.
When I looked back, the moon was even larger, looming way too close and way, way too big, and I was instantly filled with terror. I looked around at the people and none of them seemed to notice, all of them oblivious to this apparent astronomical and possibly catastrophic event taking place in the night sky.
Just then, I realized that the moon was in the wrong part of the sky. It’s not the moon at all! It’s actually the sun! But, it was not radiating light as the sun normally presents itself. It was obviously the night sky, stars visible, houses and trees on the horizon like silhouettes. This giant disc was taking up a good-sized portion of the sky, and it was orange like a harvest moon depicted in a Halloween greeting card. No sun rays, no light cast from it on the ground… just a collossal orange disc in the night sky.
My heart filled with terror and I could feel the blood drain from my face. As I was watching it, in an instant, it grew three times its already massive size and just as suddenly, sucked itself inward, too fast to see this action taking place, it reduced to a tiny point. This immense object became a small blue dot encircled with a ring that appeared like a thin circular cloud.
"Had the sun just gone super-nova?" I thought in grave terror. Is this the moment that all life on earth would come to a mercilessly abrupt end?
I grabbed my daughter’s hand and ran into the house. Right across from the patio back door was a cellar door and I dashed us both down those stairs. The small cellar had stone walls and I placed my daughter in the corner and covered her with my own body. I could hear everything above turning into ice, cracking and popping as the ice hurriedly drew nearer to us. I wrapped my arms around her head, grit my teeth, face grimaced, I shut my eyes and braced myself for what was seemingly the moment of our death. Just then, everything went black.
And then, I woke up, taking wide gasps of breath as if I was being forcibly held under water and just broke the surface. You don’t come out of a dream like that and shrug it off, re-fluff your pillows and hunker down to complete the night's rest. It disturbed and frightened me, heart banging against my sternum like a hammer. I awoke in horror, confused and confounded, wondering what in the world my brain had just produced.
This profoundly disturbed feeling stayed with me for days afterward. For months I attempted to interpret the dream. Maybe I was under too much stress? Maybe it was the smothered burrito I had for dinner that night? Maybe a psychiatric evaluation was in order? Maybe this was a vision of the future from God?
There are elements of this dream that are shared in the first one I had ten years earlier. The dreams are ten years apart and the setting in both was ten years into the future. Both dreams were an apocalyptic, catastrophic, extinction-level event. In the first dream, there were enormous planets in the horizon, three of them to be exact, way too large and too close to the earth which instilled intense feelings of terror and doom. In the second dream, the moon and the sun played starring roles and the sky, yet again, was the grand cosmic stage.
In the first dream I also had my daughter as my dream companion. But, at that time, she had not been born yet, and would not be born until ten years later. In the first dream, there was an infant, a girl, of which I would also use my body as a cover to protect her as the world was coming to an end outside. In real life, my son was a baby then and considering that my doctors at that time informed me that I would be unable to have any more children, the infant in this dream was a mystery to me. In my mind, I simply reduced it to a mere dream symbol.
Fast-forward to present day, my daughter is now the age she was in the super-nova dream. And, while I have spent many years trying to decode the mystery of this intense vision, nary an answer would come. What gives me pause, however, is that on August 21st of this year, there will be an incredible solar eclipse event that will take place one lunar month prior to what could be interpreted as a prophetic astronomical sign that will take place on September 23 (which you can read about here and here). I didn't know this at the time of the dream. I’ve actually had passing thoughts of whether or not I should cancel any invitations to a backyard party that may occur on that date.
I’ve either been given prophetic insight from God, I'm hormonally or chemically imbalanced, under attack from the enemy, or over-reacting to a meaningless set of dream symbols that my brain has patterned for its own subconscious amusement.
What does the bible say about prophetic and apocalyptic dreams and visions?
There is a difference between a "vision" and a "prophetic dream." A prophetic dream occurs during sleep when the mind is operating from the subconscious realm. A vision typically occurs during the waking, conscious state. I do not consider biblical events where individuals viewed an actual event as a “vision" even if the components of the event were supernatural.
For example, when Ezekiel witnessed God on His throne appear in a whirlwind, that was not a “vision.” Ezekiel actually saw God on His throne appear in a whirlwind surrounded by mighty scary-looking angels. The event was so intense that Ezekiel fell over “as dead” at the magnitude of the event unfolding before him (Ezekiel 1).
When the apostles Peter, James and John saw the transfiguration of Christ while flanked by Moses and Elijah, they were witnessing an actual event (Matthew 17). This was not a vision, this was not a prophetic dream, and it certainly was not a shared figment of collective imagination. This was a real-time event. When Moses was in the cleft of the rock and saw God’s back, that was not a vision. God revealed Himself to Moses, at least in part, in a real-time event (Exodus 33). The occurrence of an event, supernatural or otherwise, is not a “vision.”
A vision is a lucid dream that takes place during a conscious, waking state (i.e., John’s vision of the Revelation), for which God is providing a visual presentation of something He wants to communicate to that individual to further His redemptive purpose, typically something that will occur in the future. The apostle John was clearly awake and conscious as he transcribed word-for-word what Jesus stated in the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. It was not a dream and the apostle John was not sleeping.
A prophetic dream is a visual presentation offered to an individual during the sleeping, unconscious state (Jacob's vision of the ladder to heaven with God at the top, Genesis 28:10-22). Jacob clearly was sleeping, dreaming, and given a vision.
There are numerous accounts of dreams and visions given to specific individuals in the Bible. Patriarchs, prophets, kings and some of the apostles were all given important dreams and visions by God. Dreams and visions were also given to ungodly, wicked characters along the biblical timeline.
According to biblical account, visions and dreams served a variety of purposes all lending to God's over-arching plan. What is common about all of these is that they were provided by God, interpreted by God, and completely aligned to God's purpose. Now that the scriptures are complete and the church is established, why would God need to give visions and prophetic dreams to the people of the earth? God speaks to us through His word, it is sufficient. What purpose would a vision or prophetic dream serve at this point in the prophetic timeline? Is there anything new that needs to be communicated?
The bottom line is, scripture tells us that in the last days God will give people visions and dreams.
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:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. ~Acts 2:17-21
There still remains many parts of the world where the Bible is not available and the gospel is not taught and shared. God will further His purpose using visions and dreams, especially in the last days, to anyone He chooses.
How to discern if a dream or vision is from God?
God will never communicate a message that does not align perfectly with His word. If your vision or dream contains extra-biblical events, unscriptural content, or any component that does not line up and in complete agreement with scripture, guess what? It's not from God. Additionally, any vision or dream that God would provide would not superscede the authority of His already completed and sufficient Word.
Interpretation is God's and God's alone. Any attempt to interpret a suspected vision or prophetic dream using our own reasoning power is a mistake. We must closely and prayerfully investigate any possible meaning and purpose that God alone would provide to us in His own timing. While visions or prophetic dreams can seem upsetting and intense, God would not leave us in despair or terror and He would not leave a mystery unsolved. The answer might not come immediately, but, it will come, guaranteed. If God did indeed give you a vision or prophecy, there will be a purpose, and only God can show you how He plans to use it.
As far as my dreams are concerned, I did receive my answers from God. While both of my dreams had repeating elements and patterns, the events that took place are not found in scripture. A novice at the time of the dreams, I found close similarities. But, upon further inspection, there were differences...dramatic ones. When the first dream took place, I was a brand new Christian. And, by the time the second one rolled around, I had more scripture in my heart, but not enough to adequately discern the dream at the time.
There were other parallels that seems to align with my current reality. The future cast of the super-nova dream puts the timing of the event at present day. I have been widowed now 6 years and my son, who had not been in either dream, is a grown man with a family of his own. It is only my daughter and myself living together at this point in our lives. There may be backyard parties scheduled for the eclipse event coming up in August, and more likely than not, we may be invited to at least one of them. Since I recently moved to a different state, it is entirely possible that we could attend a gathering full of people that we do not know in an attempt to make new friends. The fact that there are so many sets of "ten" in the dream remains a mystery, but I know that God does not leave us in confusion or with mysteries unsolved.
I can only discern that these dreams were a cleverly deceptive work of the enemy at times in my life when I may have been particularly vulnerable. The apocalyptic elements, the cosmic anomalies, the repeating patters of "ten," the second child, a daughter that I would have in a seemingly impossible scenario are all deeply personal and emotional components. To be at this present point in time widowed and living alone with my daughter, who is still a teenager, and raising her as a single mother adds another challenging element. And, all crescendoing at a time that seems very much like the last of the last days before the Great Tribulation and Christ's return. What better way to steal my joy than to fill my heart with dread and doubt the end-time events clearly depicted in scripture.
Not today, Satan.
The way these answers came to me were through a life of earnest prayer, devoted study of God's word, and abiding in Him. They came to me as the fruit of walking with Christ and remaining fixed on Him. Did I become a Christian because of these dreams? No, but God used it to enhance my studies and knowledge of His word, His redemptive plan for mankind, and His love for His people. Being shown the wrong thing in the wrong way was a great catalyst for receiving the truth from God.
If you have had a similar experience and would like to share your story, or would like us to pray for you, please email us at SaltRadioMinistries@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you and would be honored to pray for any need you may have.