There is a massive interest in visions worldwide. Enter the word ‘visions’ on the internet search engine and you will be presented with a staggering 13,600,000 entries. (‘Dreams’ was over 32 million!)
ra’ ah A primitive root; to see, literally or figuratively.
What is it about visions that so impacts the prophetic, what does the Bible say about visions, who gets them, can you ask for them, what do you do with them? These are just a few of the questions we will attempt to answer here.
Visions are clearly a way that God chose to reveal himself and disclose his intentions throughout scripture.
I know someone who was watching the news on television and happened to glance down at the floor. He suddenly saw through the carpet into the living room of one of his Church leaders and not only saw but could hear the conversation that was going on. He heard the leader talking of resigning from leading the Church and discussing what he would do instead! He was then able the next day to convey what God had showed him with that leader. Visions are inspiring and exciting things.
Unfortunately you don’t get them by just asking God. You can ask though. Like dreams, God seems to initiate when this kind of revelation will happen, and what its outcome will be. Ask God to show you vision, but don’t pester – don’t make them the passion of your heart.
When someone says that they ‘had a picture’ of something, it may not always be the same as a vision. God does reveal things visually, stirring the imagination or bringing stark imagery to mind. In that sense, they are visions. But not quite the same thing as the High-definition big screen stuff that God is so wonderfully capable of. They come from God and you just can’t make them happen!
God gives visions
We are taught to ‘pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts,
especially that you may prophesy’ (1Cor 14:1). In the pursuit of God concerning the prophetic it may well be that God will give visions (‘I spoke to the prophets; it was I who multiplied visions, and through the prophets gave parables’. Hos 12:10) but scripture no where suggests that in terms of knowing the mind of God that we should ask for visions.
Not a problem
I don’t think there is essentially anything wrong with asking God to reveal himself with visions (especially in light of Joel 2:28)but it is not a matter that should become an obsession. There is a sober warning of this in Colossians 2:18, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind…”
Martin Lloyd-Jones says it well, “Seek not an experience, but seek Him, seek to know Him, seek to realize His presence, seek to love Him.”
What are visions?
One definition is that they are mental images produced in the imagination, usually seen with the eyes closed, but that is not true for visions whose source is God.
It is not an imaginative process. The idea of it being an imaginative process hints at a potential problem in that it may be that sometimes what people see in terms of pictures can be their own imagination.
The visions described in the scriptures are powerful, vibrant, full of meaning and have distinct purpose – revealing God’s mind about a situation or circumstance. They originate from the Spirit of God, He initiates them, they are not the result of our own creative thinking. Just because a person is creative does not make them prophetic – and vice versa!
Visions are one of the ways God brings to mind what He is communicating through visual means. “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream”. (Num 12:6)
They are also initiated by God, have their source in God and we contribute nothing to them. “I spoke to the prophets; it was I who multiplied visions, and through the prophets gave parables”. (Hos 12:10)