Processing Revelations Regarding Catastrophies
Articles - Christian Growth
by Lyn Packer
This week I received an email from a woman from Christchurch who had been told by her Pastor there that she should leave the area as he had been given words by people he knew and respected who had had dreams or visions that they took to say that more devastating catastrophes were coming for Christchurch. She asked what her response should be as she couldn't see that removing the body of Christ from an area in so much need could possibly be the right move.
I believe my answer will be helpful to more people than her hence releasing it as an article on our blogsite and facebook. My answer to her deals mainly with the process of how we evaluate the revelation people have received rather than whether they should leave the area or not. I hope it will be a help to many people in evaluating prophetic words and revelation.
So I have to look at it generally, and in doing so note that several things could be happening right now.
It is highly possible that God is speaking and warning of further danger. If that is the case then He is warning for two reasons – one, so that we have advance warning for safety reasons (personal and community) and two, so that we can call people together to pray into the situation, to take authority over it and avert it, or at least minimize the damage that could be caused.
The Bible says "we know in part and we prophesy in part" (1 Cor 13:9) We do not see all that God sees and we do not know all that He knows. So even the revelation we do get is at best a part, not the whole. You mentioned that some people had received visions and others dreams. Visions can come from two main sources – God or the demonic, and occasionally our own imagination (but these are usually internal visions that arise out of our emotional state at the time). Dreams can come from three sources – God, the demonic or our own heart & mind processing things.
The first thing we need to do when we receive any revelation is to ask – "God, is this from you?" and then ask "Is this literal or is it symbolic?" "Is this for me or is it for others (if for others then who)?" Those questions are foundational for what we do with the revelation and then how we interpret it.
Vision and dream language is often symbolic and / or metaphorical it is not always literal. Warning visions are generally more literal than symbolic but they can have symbolic elements, so we must still ask God that question – "Is this literal or symbolic?"
It is also possible during times like this for peoples' own heart fears to rise to the surface in dreams or internal visions. When that happens it can sometimes be easy to mistake it as a warning dream or vision, and if we do it is possible to prophesy out of our own heart/imagination. The Bible has a few references to this, some of which are Jer 14,14; Jer 23:16,25; Ez 13:2,17.
Even the most seasoned prophetic minister can get things wrong sometimes, which is why it is always good as a prophetic minister to have someone else you can check your revelation with before you give voice to it publicly especially when it is something corporate that affects many people. A lot of ministers don't do this, even when it comes to big stuff like this, hence we have lots of words floating around. We forget that rumours etc spread easily and the second or third person to hear the word has no idea whether it was given as a definite word from God or was someone's private musings with a friend.
When it comes to dreams they are even more tricky than visions often. Most dreams are personal, not corporate, and are our subconscious trying to come to grips with life issues, either current or from our past. They can be hard enough to interpret even in normal times, but in times of stress we must be even more careful to seek the Lord for their interpretation.
If you do get a corporate prophetic dream then you must know how to interpret it. Dreams are usually largely symbolic, rather than literal, but even a dream that is literal can have some symbolic elements included in it. So each symbol or factor in the dream must be enquired about. For example, a river – it could be literal, in which case you would need to know or ask what river it was and where possible make an accurate identification of that. A river can symbolize the river of God flowing from the throne, it can symbolize rivers of living water flowing from you, it could symbolize turbulence and confusion and being caught up in things depending on whether the river is running clear, over boulders or has debris floating in it.
The thing I would suggest is to get the elders to pray regarding these visions and dreams, not just to accept them blindly because they come from someone they know. If they then, after prayer as a group of elders, feel strongly that they are from God then they need to ask Him for His strategy. After hearing that they should communicate with the people.
Then they should ask that each person go before God and ask for His personal strategy for them as well as for their family. It is possible, but not a given, that the Lord would say something different to one or more people, but each person should be open to having their guidance queried if it is obviously definitely opposed to what God has already given as strategy to the eldership.
While we as leaders or prophetic voices can give warning of things in advance we cannot dictate or legislate application regarding that warning. We can give advice but in the end each person must hear from God for themself and their family regarding the situation and act accordingly (with wisdom and discernment – James 1:5).
If the elders believe the warnings are from God they should share that with other churches and even if they are ridiculed they should share with the community. The elders have then discharged that part of their responsibility before God regarding sharing the dreams and visions. The responsibility of the church then is to go to war in prayer to prevent or minimize any damage that could happen if the things that have been seen come to pass.
Please feel free to pass this article on to others if you think it helpful.