Articles The Difference Between Speculation & Revelation

I had just finished delivering a Master Class on “Keys to Understanding the Symbolic Language”, when I was approached by a journalist. She wished to interview me and she posed a very good question:

“What is the difference between what you do and what a psychologist or psychoanalyst does?”

This was my response to her: When it comes to understanding symbolic language our approach is very similar. The difference occurs when we are considering a dream of Divine origin. It is then that an interpretation requires Divine insight. The distinction between what a psychologist or psychoanalyst might do in interpreting a dream and how I would seek understanding is knowing the difference between speculation and revelation.

She was somewhat bewildered by my reply so I continued to explain using the example of Pharaoh’s dream as recorded in the Bible, Genesis Chapter 41. Pharaoh had summoned the magicians and wise men of Egypt because of two dreams that troubled him. They attempted to speculate but even with their best guess, couldn’t come up with an interpretation. The journalist was intrigued to hear of Pharaoh’s dream, how the seven healthy cows were eaten by seven ugly and gaunt cows that had emerged from the river Nile. She knew very little about the Bible.

“Can you imagine what took place?” I asked. “This one suggested one thing, and the next one suggested something else.”

Pharaoh’s frustrations continued to build until the cupbearer recalled a time he’d spent with a Hebrew prisoner. The cupbearer remembered his prison cell mate who had accurately sought wisdom from God to interpret his dream. He told Pharaoh about Joseph and Pharaoh had Joseph sent for immediately.

The journalist listened as I unpacked the Biblical story.

When Joseph was finally brought before Pharaoh, he made it clear he was unable to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, however, he was confident God would reveal the meaning.

The seven healthy cows represented seven good years, and the seven gaunt cows stood for seven years of drought that was to follow. As Joseph sought God’s message contained in Pharaoh’s dreams, he was then able to warn Egypt’s leader of the time of famine that would eventually come. Pharaoh chose to accept Joseph’s interpretation and mobilized a national strategy—to store grain during the seven years of plenty in preparation for the years of drought.

Joseph needed something more than mere speculation—a best guess that springs from the natural realm of logic and reason. In Joseph’s case and in every case where a dream has a Divine origin, revelation is required—revelation that comes from the supernatural realm.

There is nothing wrong with speculating what certain symbols in a dream might mean. Most of our dreams are a reflection of the soul, connected to everyday concerns and events in our life. But there are times when a dream is more than a response to our day-to-day life. There are dreams that are of Divine origin and will require the Holy Spirit’s revelation to understand the meaning.

On one occasion I was challenged by a well-meaning Christian who questioned my right to teach people about speculating what their dreams might mean. His comment was: “If God gives a dream to a person then He will make the meaning of the symbols clear to them, so you don’t need to teach people about this.”

In response to this challenge, I referred the person to the imagery contained in the parable of the sower and the seed. Jesus was surprised the disciples could not understand the symbolism in the story he had just told them. (Mark 4:13NKJV). “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (Luke 8:9 NKJV)

Jesus went on to explain the symbolism in the parable, as the disciples could not understand the meaning. Jesus may have thought the meaning behind the symbolism plain enough, especially for those who are his disciples. But this was not the case.

This is a Biblical example how God may give a dream or vision but, as was the case with this parable, we might not necessarily understand it.

We should give ourselves permission to speculate what certain symbols might mean. While we may start off in speculation the Holy Spirit is more than able to lead us into the realm of revelation when required.

A recent personal example of this involved a dream my wife experienced. She dreamed she was in an elevator with a group of people heading up to the 168th floor. She had a key in her hand (an electronic sensor swab) which gave her access to the room on that floor. Kate felt the dream was significant. After some time of speculation, thinking through what it might mean, I had a thought to check the calendar. She received the dream on the morning of June 16th. I counted the days from the beginning of January and was amazed to find it was the 168th day since the beginning of the year. She was equally impressed. To give context to the dream and what we began to believe it might mean, here are the details of her situation. Kate has a heart of compassion for the homeless and needy. She was recently asked to be on the Board of a significant ministry for homeless and needy people. Her first Board meeting was scheduled for the morning immediately following the dream, which happened to be the 168th day of the year. I felt to mention to her that there was every chance she would play a major role in this ministry. Holding a key to the room in her hand may imply she was the key, or held the key, to access a major doorway required for the ministry to go forward. It was interesting to note that her involvement with this community initiative began in  January of that year.

As illustrated with this personal example, I began in the realm of speculation and ended up with the Holy Spirit’s revelation.