“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and the riddles.” (Prov. 1:5-6)
In this particular scripture the word parable is the Hebrew word mashal, which means parable, adage, a simile or an allegory, an object lesson or an illustration. Wow! Sounds a lot like what happens when we dream, right. Things are often put into this crazy dream where we have to learn to decipher the enigma, the parable, the symbols in order to discover the true message and meaning behind the dream. In my blog “Understanding Symbolism” I describe how symbols acquire their meaning, but for this blog I intend to share some common symbols and their meanings as well as connect symbols to the parabolic enigmas in scripture in order to help you become a little more in tune with the heavenly language of symbolism and foreshadowing. These symbols can be used as a basis, a guide, to helping you decipher your dream, but remember that all symbols are just a baseline. You must still pray and discern for your own self what the symbols within your dream represent, what do they mean specifically to you, and how does the overall message of the dream line up with the scriptures.
How is symbolism linked to scripture?
First let’s look at a sample from scripture. Although this wasn’t a dream, it was still a symbolic, supernatural encounter, and the disciples were left to discern what the meaning could possibly be. Simon Peter (Luke 5) encounters Jesus and is told “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, ‘Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” Wow! What faith! I could write a whole blog on just standing in the boat of faith and trusting in the LORD for our substantial abundance! Yet, here we see some actual items being used in which the LORD will now turn the meaning into something powerful and symbolic. Immediately Simon Peter casts out the net at the Word of the Lord, and a huge number of fish begins to fill it up. In fact, there were so many that “their net was breaking.” (v.6). They signaled their partners to come and help, but even as more boats came, there were so many fish that now all the boats involved were beginning to sink. When Peter falls at Jesus’ feet in reverential abandon, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”
If This Were A Dream What Would It Mean?
So what do we see here as symbolism?
One: the seas represents the world.
Two: the fish represent the people of the world.
Three: the net (the Kingdom of heaven) is a way to draw believers into the fold and catch fish (men) as Jesus says. Yet, the symbolism of the net breaking shows that there are some foundational issues within the men fishing. Perhaps the load is too heavy, and they are unable to bear up under such a strain? Whatever the reason may be, they are not strong enough to hold the “catch” or the gospel, and the first time they will falter and almost be spiritually drowned.
Four: the boats are the ministry, our life. In their own ability the disciples could not do anything. It was only through Jesus that they were able to bring in an abundant harvest for the Kingdom.
After Jesus’ death, Peter is so disappointed in his own life and his denial of Christ that he decides to do what? Well, the scripture states that he decides to go back to fishing. How many times in life do we feel like we have gone so far, sin has pulled us too far into the depths, and there is nothing left for us? How can we go back to God when we feel so unclean, used, disappointing? Instead of pursuing His loving grace, we try to go back to our old lifestyle and make things work for our own self, follow those same familiar roads and unhealthy patterns. John 21 says that Peter went back out in the boat and he toiled all night and caught nothing, yet when morning came, Jesus, (resurrected in fullness and power and at first they did not recognize him) appeared on the shore and said, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. . . Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. . . Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.”
How awesome! Again, we see the same symbolism, but this time a few things happen that are very significant. Simon Peter puts on his outer garment and plunges into the water. Why? The rest of the disciples just stay in the boat and guide the fish back to land. Why did Peter rashly jump into the water (almost like a Forest Gump moment when he finds out his Mama is sick. It just doesn’t seem to make sense). Peter jumps and swims to shore. There is great significance in his actions. When he puts on his outer garment (cloak, his covering) he was symbolically preparing himself to meet his Lord. He also did not want to appear “naked” (loosely termed here because it is assumed that he had on a light vest) because this is symbolic of being fully exposed, vulnerable, and transparent. Remember, he had spoken in denial of his friendship with Jesus, and he was dealing with the shame of these actions. Peter needed that ‘covering’ and outer garment to symbolically hide his shame. Peter plunges into the ocean almost in a symbolic cleansing. He was shedding the dirt and mire of the old man so that when he walked on shore he would arise as a new creation. The next thing to note is that the net did not break this time. In fact, they brought in 153 fish, a huge catch of multitudes of large fish, and their net was strong and secure. Now they are prepared for the real walk of a disciple. Now they are ready to win souls for the kingdom. 153 represents a fruitful abundance of all nations being brought into the kingdom. Matthew 13:47 states, “The kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the seas, and gathering fish of every kind.”
Random Selection Of Other Common Symbols (applying to dreams and spiritual encounters).
Kiss: Covenant, agreement
Tunnel or Hallway: Place of transition
Rat: Disease, deceit, the enemy
Gun: Power to reach beyond yourself, can also represent words you “shoot” out or words being “shot” out at you. Depending on how much damage is done is how much you will be affected in the natural realm.
Rollercoaster: Unstable, emotional instability, wavering, ups and downs of life
Arms: Your strength or weakness (right is natural realm; left is spiritual)
Television: Vision, message, prophesy
Fog: Clouded issues, confusion, distortion
Drugs: influence (being influenced or influencing others)
Roaches: infestation, unclean spirits
Drought: Blessings withheld, a season of famine, emptiness, longing
Telescope: Future prophetic vision, a vision for a time to come
Drowning: Felling overcome, depression, self-pity, grief
House Trailer: A temporary place
Have you had a dream with an unusual symbol? What are some common symbols that you often see in your dreams. Share some symbols that have troubled you, or that you would just like to know the meaning of. Be blessed and keep dreaming.