“The Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.” –Amos 3:7
Dreams and visions are the primary way that God speaks to prophets (Numbers 12:6). Scripture, the lives of the saints, and personal experience will confirm this. These means of supernatural revelation are highly symbolic and have to be interpreted in the language of Biblical symbols (see Ira Milligan’s Understanding the Dreams You Dream). There are three stages in the reception of revelations:
1. Revelation (the dream or vision experience).
2. Interpretation (the process of translating the symbols of the dream into something concrete and plain to understand).
3. Application (what the prophet does with the revelation he has received, such as prophesy it, share it with his pastor or church, act it out, or just pray about it as an intercessor, like Moses or Daniel).
Mike Bickle follows this “revelation, interpretation, and application” process in his Growing in the Prophetic, just as any conservative evangelical would approach Bible study. But instead of the Bible being the revelation, and instead of Bible commentaries being involved in the interpretation, and instead of practical obedience to Scripture being the application–dreams and visions are interpreted by inner feelings and symbols from the Bible (as mentioned before, I prefer Ira Milligan’s dream symbol dictionary as a starting place, as does James Goll in Dream Language).
The subjectivity of dream-and-vision prophecy makes it challenging to integrate this spiritual gift into the church context. I find this is especially the case when dreams involve sin, Hell, the devil and other negative or frightening supernatural realities. Much caution should be used by prophets in the sharing of such revelations. Most of the prophetic movement today, at least from what I can tell, consists of simple “encouragement” prophecy: words of knowledge that have the same effect as a motivational speech. Sometimes such words can sound rather flattering. 1 Corinthians 14:3, KJV says prophecy is for encouragement/comfort–that is very true; it is also for building up other people’s faith/edifying; but it is also supposed to be used for EXHORTING (Gk. paraklesis/admonition/warning)–and this part of the prophetic is generally the most controversial, because this where the Holy Spirit speaks on “sin, righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8); and challenges church people on a moral level.
“Accuser of the brethren!” “False prophet!” And other such phrases are likely going to be imputed to the prophet who shares such revelations. This happened to David Wilkerson when he prophesied The Vision in 1973, simply because it was so focused on sin, righteousness, and judgment (Gary Wilkerson’s David Wilkerson, p. 174).
We must keep in mind that, if we plan on walking in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25), He is not going to change what He wants to speak to His servants the prophets, whether to man, woman, or child. Even if charismatic churches can’t see why God would expose sin in others’ lives to deliver them from it (1 Corinthians 14:24-25); we still must pray that such sins cease in our midst.
Because misunderstanding about the nature of grace and holiness abounds in our churches, it follows that when the Holy Spirit reveals sin in others’ hearts by a dream, that the prophet should lean more towards private prayer (intercession) and less towards sharing it (prophecy):–if he does, it may cause great harm, because church leaders may react in a negative manner. Naming names–at the very least–is the most harmful in a church context. Share the dream with your pastor, if you know he is a prophet who gets words of knowledge, but be hesitant about naming names. It may be that the Lord had it in mind to just “reveal His secret to His servant,” a prophet (Amos 3:7).
Goll, James. The Prophetic Intercessor. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2007.
Sandford, John and Paula. The Elijah Task: A Call to Today’s Prophets and Intercessors. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2006.