Part 2 – Understanding and stewarding revelations

In these days there is an incredible increase in people receiving revelation, whether visions, dreams, heavenly experiences or spoken revelation, and this will continue to increase in the days ahead. So it’s important that we learn how to properly interpret and apply our revelations and that we teach others how to do so as well. If we don’t, then the church runs the very real danger of becoming flaky and deceived, all the while thinking it is okay because it is being blessed. In fact it is possible for a person to be right and true in their beliefs in some areas, and wrong and deceived in other areas. We all have blind spots and we all only see partly (1 Cor 13:12). The key here is being open to Holy Spirit to teach us, correct us and lead us into truth. It is an ongoing process of growth, not an event. We do not suddenly know all there is to know about anything. We grow and change as we allow our minds to be transformed, and our thinking to be brought into truth (Rom 12:2).

It makes no difference what type of revelation we are receiving – the revelation must be allowed to transform us. Even a revelation that God gives us for others, can and will do a work in our lives if we will let it. I believe that is part of what God intends when He gives us the revelation. But revelation is not just about us, as nice as it is to have these experiences. We are called to be ambassadors of Heaven – those who release Heaven into Earth. We are blessed and we are to be a blessing, so we must lean how to steward wisely the revelations we receive. Because in so many cases the church has not been taught how to properly steward what it receives from God, many people receive revelation and then either do nothing with it or do the wrong thing with it.

We are told in scripture to test every prophecy (1 Thess 5 20,21; 2 Pet 1:20,21; 1 John 4:1; Acts 17:11) and I believe we should apply this to visions, dreams and anything else that is a prophetic revelation. We test it against scripture as a whole, God’s character and nature, and God’s heart for mankind. If it is a true revelation from God it will be in line with all these.

How do we steward the revelations God shows us?

The most important part of that stewarding is having a correct understanding of the revelations we receive; everything relating to what we do with the revelation hinges on this.

Revelation has (to my understanding) three components to it.

  • Component 1 – the Revelation – the picture or vision God shows you, or the things God says to you.
  • Component 2 – the Interpretation of that which you see or hear.
  • Component 3 – the Application or outworking of that which He shows you.

As I said in article 1 in this series, revelation is an invitation to intimacy, dialogue and co-operation with God. Keep that in mind as we explore the components that make up revelation.

Let’s look at those three components.

1. The revelation

This is the actual vision you see, what you hear or the encounter you have. The most common mistake that people make when trying to figure out what the things they see and hear mean is “to take everything they see literally”.

There is a difference between literal and symbolic – remember that while both may feel real, there is still a difference between those two things.

  • Literal means – everything you see can be taken literally ie. It is what it is. – no symbolic, allegorical, or metaphorical meaning. Eg, John talking to an elder in heaven about the people he is seeing, as in Rev 7:13-17.
  • Symbolic means – aspects or the whole may be representative of something else eg. In Jeremiah 1:13-16 Jeremiah sees a boiling pot facing away from the north. The boiling pot is symbolic of disaster coming on the land from a country in the north.

Visions and experiences may have some aspects of both in them, eg. In Rev 1:10-20 John sees seven golden lampstands (symbolic of the seven churches). He also sees a person who has hair white as wool, eyes like fire, feet like burnished bronze (literal). That is why we must be able to interpret our experiences and visions rightly. It is so important to ask Holy Spirit to help us interpret what we see.

2. The interpretation

Do not go into your head to try and figure out what it means. Ask Holy Spirit – it’s His job to lead you into truth. To find the interpretation you simply ask Holy Spirit questions. I know that doesn’t sound very spiritual, does it? We’d much rather have a shaft of divine light with a scroll in it giving us the meaning, and sometimes the Lord will do something like that. But mostly He won’t, because that would defeat God’s purpose of bringing us into intimacy and dialogue.

  • Ask if the revelation is for you, for someone else, or for a corporate group. The answer to that question may well influence the meaning of the revelation.
  • Be specific – ask about the details of what you see. Each question you ask will probably lead to another, but as it does, the mystery of the vision will be revealed to you.
  • Ask Holy Spirit what is literal and what is symbolic. Get to know how God uses symbols in scripture – those symbols can often give you a clue to something’s meaning eg bowls have many meanings in scripture. There are bowls filled with incense, symbolizing prayer (Rev 5:8). There are bowls that represent people (2 Cor 4:7) or countries (Jer 1:13-16) and there are bowls that are simply bowls (2 Tim 2:20). Each will give an entirely different meaning to a vision of a bowl being poured out, for example.

Just because an experience feels real, it does not mean that everything in that experience isliteral. This is critical to understand! If we don’t understand this we can easily begin to slide into subtle yet real deception, which will open us up to the enemy. God often speaks in metaphors, riddles and symbols and even in the middle of what is a very real experience there will often be mysteries waiting to be unfolded.

Example; and this is a common vision people have had – that of seeing a warehouse in heaven that is stocked with body parts waiting for people to bring them from Heaven into Earth. 

Is this literal or symbolic? I haven’t personally seen this place, although I know people who have, and who say that what they saw felt very real to them. They have felt God say that He wants them to come to heaven and get the parts they need when they are praying for someone for healing and then release them to that person here on Earth.

Let’s look at that vision now and see what we can interpret. It may have felt real, but did they really see and experience that? Yes, they had a real experience in which they saw things. It was not their imagination – it was God showing them something of an eternal truth. Is it literal? Are there literally spare parts up there for every broken or wounded part of someone’s body and are they stored in a warehouse? Or is this maybe a symbolic picture of something that is a spiritual reality – God wanting to release the healing and wholeness that He has for them into people’s lives, and calling us to be the agent that releases Heaven’s reality of wholeness into earth? I personally feel that while this was really experienced it is still a symbolic picture of the heavenly reality of wholeness being available for every person. But it is no less power-filled because of that. Remember, any revelation from God has the power in it that is needed to effect transformation.

Another example – you may receive a picture of a person hidden deep underground in a hole and you see yourself going in there and rescuing them.

You know the person is not literally in a hole so you think or assume that it must be their spirit that is bound up and hidden deep underground in a dark hole. You then share this with others – that there are Christians and Non-Christians whose spirits are bound and hidden in holes and you have been sent by God to rescue them.

What is wrong with you sharing this? A whole lot! The basic premise is wrong, and if that is wrong then your interpretation and application of it will be wrong, too. What is that basic premise? That what you are seeing is literal! It may have felt very real but it is not literal, it is symbolic. But if you get the symbolism wrong by trying to figure it out with your mind you will end up going in a wrong direction. God may still even bless you and set people free as you share and pray with them but you may still be wrong in your summation of what you saw. According to scripture a Christian’s spirit cannot be bound up and hidden in a hole in the ground. They have been given (in Christ) a new spirit, which is complete and whole. Their spirit is not broken or bound. A Non- Christians spirit may be broken and bound but again it does not hide in a hole in the ground it lives inside them. There is a difference between a person’s spirit and their soul (emotions, mind, heart and will), but even then a person’s soul still cannot be in a hole in the ground; it is a part of their body. What we are seeing in this example is not a literal picture! It’s a symbolic picture of an area of brokenness in their spirit (only if they are a non-Christian) or their soul (Christian and Non-Christian) that needs to be brought into the light of God’s love. They are not literally hidden in a hole in the ground.

Can you see how easy it is to go wrong with this? Some may think that it’s better to not ask for revelation if there is such a chance of going wrong, but that would be like the servant that buried the talents underground and waited for the master to return (Matt 25:14-30). The key is to grow up into Christ and learn to steward wisely what we receive.

3. The application

What does God want you to do with what you’ve seen or heard? There may be any number of things that He could want you to do with it.

  • He may want you to take it to prayer and never share it. This is a very real possibility and one we must consider – not every revelation is to be shared. Or…
  • He may want you to pray it through and then share it.

If He does want you to share it with others then you need to ask – when and how? Again the possibilities are numerous

  • art (painting, sculpture, movie etc)
  • spoken word (prayer, encouragement, prophecy, song etc)
  • written word (story, blog, article etc).

Are there practical things that the Lord wants you to do? Ask Him for the strategy to begin to implement those things.

What if the Lord tells you to submit what you’ve seen or heard to leadership and nothing is done with it? If that is what God asked you to do then the responsibility passes out of your hand into theirs. They are now answerable to God, not you, for what they do with it. You’ve done what God asked you to do. Ask the Lord if you need to continue to pray for that thing but whatever you do, don’t pray prayers of manipulation or condemnation against the leader you gave it to. Release it back into the Lord’s hands. Remember it’s His to establish, not yours.

In the next article we’ll begin to look at how we steward things like trances, extended periods of revelation, heavenly experiences and more. We’ll talk about protocols for entering the Throne Room and other places in the heavenly realms, and stewarding those things.

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