Keys for understanding the timing of dreams

Days, hours, weeks, months, signs in the sky, and other timing symbols – plus how to approach the time factor in dreams.

How far ahead do we dream?

When is my dream going to be fulfilled?

This article identifies some common clues that can be timing indicators in dreams, plus hints on how to approach this subject – with real dream examples.

I approach dream interpretation from a biblical perspective. My belief is that our dreams can come from God, and understanding them is best understood within the context of an ongoing relationship with Him.

If you have just come across this post and are new to dream interpretation, it is worth mentioning that dreams are symbolic in nature. You might find it helpful to read Understand your dreams: A bible-based introduction to dream language and my 3 step dream interpretation method to give you a foundation.

The timing of dreams

It can be very frustrating to receive a prophetic word and get excited – only to have the weeks… and sometimes years… go by without anything happening.

It is the same with the messages God gives us in our dreams. The symbolism and meaning might be clear – but if time passes and it doesn’t happen it’s easy to become demoralised and lose hope.

Therefore, it is important to have realistic expectations – and understanding timing is a key part of that.

I have discovered that God does give us clues about the timing of things – and too often I have missed them in my own dreams.

How far ahead do we dream?

There is not an easy answer to the question of when a dream is going to be fulfilled. I have experienced a great variation in timings. For example:

  • Some dreams relate to things happening around the day of dreaming.
  • Some dreams relate to the next few weeks or months.
  • Some dreams are about events in several years’ time.
  • Some dreams are calling dreams – and can be about things that will happen decades later!
  • Some dreams relate to general issues in our life and don’t have a timing factor.

The biblical example of Joseph

Joseph was a famous dreamer in the bible. As a young adult, he had some dreams about his future (Genesis 37), indicating that his whole family would come and bow down to him. But he didn’t know when, or how, they were going to be fulfilled.

It was many years later – after being sold into slavery, thrown into prison, and then promoted to leadership in Egypt – that the dreams came to pass. I suspect that once he became ruler of Egypt, he began to understand what those original dreams were about, and prepared himself for the time when his family would come.

Like Joseph, we sometimes have to be content to wait for a long time time before we start to see our dreams becoming relevant.

Some timing dreams are literal

Most dreams are symbolic, but occasionally we have a dream where are are given specific timings. Even then, we don’t always get all the details, but we know something is going to happen.

In my experience, these dreams are rare. I’ve only had a few of them over the years, and I am still waiting to see how they are fulfilled!

When a timing is meant to be taken literally, it is usually fairly obvious, and may come through a clear message. Here is an example:

DREAM: JESUS GIVES ME A PROPHECY
I dreamed that Jesus appeared to me three times. The third time, I started apologising to Him for messing up my life! Then He placed His hand on my back and prophesied. He said, “Seven years from today, something will start.”
EXPLANATION
I understood this to be a literal prophecy. That date is still a few years away, so until then I need to wait and see what happens!.

I wish this happened more often! But timing indicators in dreams are usually harder to spot – and hidden in the symbolic language. The rest of this article deals with those dreams: The ones that need interpreting to unravel the timing clues!

Dream symbols about timing

Although it is hard to predict the time factor of dreams, there are some things that can help. In this section I have listed some common dream symbols that can give us clues about timing:

Left and right as timing indicators

Take notice of whether something is on the right or left-hand side.

  • Right is usually something happening right now, or at least very soon. The time is at hand and the dream will be fulfilled very soon!
  • Left is usually something that will happen in the future. It is a promise that it will happen – but not yet. Maybe you are not quite ready, or other things need to happen first. It brings hope to hold onto – that if you continue your journey with God it will come to pass.

When you write down your dreams, make sure to record that left-right detail. It may not seem important, but it is! As you pray through your dreams – pay attention to the memory! Picture the scene: was it on the left or the right?

Front and back as timing indicators

Front and back can also help with dream timings.

  • The front of something usually represents the future
  • The back of something usually represents the past

For example, The front porch, front door, front window, or front garden (yard) of a house is often about something that will (or could) happen in the future (rather than right now). The back ones would be the past.

This also applies to our bodies. If we have something on our front, it could be about the future, and our back is about the past.

If the dream is set on a journey, then things in front of us (ahead) represent things that are potentially coming up in the future. The distance ahead can give us a clue about how far in the future it is. If it is directly ahead it might be quite soon.

Days can represent years

A biblical principle which I find commonly occurring in dreams is that a day can symbolise a year – and similarly, a week can represent seven years. Here are some bible references to illustrate this:

  • Numbers 14:34, NLT Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years—a year for each day… 
  • Ezekiel 4:5-6. NASB For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their wrongdoing, 390 days… of the house of Israel…
  • Genesis 29:27, NASB Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me, for another seven years.

This is how it might look in a dream:

  • Tomorrow: If we dream of doing something ‘tomorrow’, it could well be telling us what’s coming up next year.
  • A number of days: For example, if we are doing something ‘for two days’ it probably symbolises something that we will be doing for two years.
  • A week: This could indicate a 7-year period that is ahead of us. It might seem disheartening to think that we have to wait that long for fulfilment, but it helps to know – and time does go by quickly!
  • Days of the week: Days of the week can relate to years. For example, for me, this year (2022) seems to be Monday in my dreams (after the ‘weekend’ of lockdown), so Tuesday is next year… and so on. This system can vary – but the principle of days representing years does usually apply.

DREAM: GOING TO SCHOOL ON TUESDAY
A number of years ago, I dreamed that I needed to ‘go to school on Tuesday’. I had various other dreams at that time, linking to days of the week.
EXPLANATION:
A couple of years later I took a year off work to do a full time bible school. I understood that to be the ‘school’ in my dream – and that particular year was symbolised by Tuesday. That insight was very helpful, as it helped me place the timing of lots of other dreams.

Times of day can represent times of year

Given that a day can represent a year, different times of day can indicate the time of year that the dream is about.

Here are some examples from the UK seasons:

  • Morning: Spring, or the start of the year
  • Midday: Summer, around June/July, or the middle of the year
  • Evening: Autumn/winter, or the end of the year

So, if I dream about something happening tomorrow morning, it will probably be about something happening in the first few months of the next calendar year.

You can probably identify your own system, depending on what the year looks like in your geographical location – and you can test out your theory by reviewing your old dreams with hindsight.

Be alert though, because times of day could also be about different seasons of life. Morning can be associated with new things, as can the rising sun (in a similar way to east)… and so on.

Hours can represent months

I have found that an hour sometimes represents a month in my dreams. So on that basis, something happening in half an hour would be in a couple of weeks’ time.

In particular, the specific time/hours mentioned can relate to specific months:

  • PM might be later this year
  • AM might be next year

So, for example, I am writing this blog post in March, so:

  • 9pm could be September, later this year
  • 2am could be February, next year
  • 8am could be this coming August, but might be August next year.

Hold this loosely, because:

  • An hour can also be used generally to indicate an undefined period of time (e.g. ‘the hour was late’).
  • Numbers can have other meanings not related to the months.

However, God does consistently use this system in my dreams.

Months and moons can represent life seasons

In the bible, the moon is mentioned as an indicator of seasons. The time of a moon cycle is roughly one month, which is why a month can symbolise a life season in dreams.

For example, dreaming of something happening next month, can represent something in the next season of our life. Last month could be about something that happened in the previous season.

A month can also be a cycle, relating to any relevant period of time. For example, three months could be three school terms, or three attempts at doing something.

DREAM: THE MOON IS HUGE
Recently I dreamed that I looked in the sky, and there was a FULL MOON looking HUGE! it was so big I thought it would fall out of the sky! I was thinking about all the upheaval (such as tsunamis etc.) that this proximity would cause around the world. As I watched, suddenly the moon vanished.
EXPLANATION:
I understood the proximity and size of the moon to mean that things are going to change very soon. The time is very close! A season is coming to an end, and things are shifting. The moon vanishing was the new moon appearing. This was a great encouragement for me personally (as I am inbetween seasons), but could also be relevant to events hapening in the world.

Signs in the sky as timing indicators

Our lives go though different seasons: Things come to an end, and new things start.

  • Daniel 2:21, NASB It is He who changes the times and the periods; He removes kings and appoints kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, And knowledge to people of understanding.

In general, signs in the sky often speak about seasons – including the sun and stars. As we saw with the moon cycle, the sun can be used in a similar way:

The rising sun can be a new season / something new starting, and the setting sun the end of a season. East and west have the same associations.

The appearance of the moon can also indicate the stage of the season we are in:

  • New moon can be the start of a new season
  • Full moon can be the fullness of time or completion of a season

The star of Bethlehem was a sign in the sky, indicating that that a king (the Jewish Messiah) was about to be born (Matthew 2:1-2).

Fellow blogger and dream enthusiast, Chris Michals, has written in more detail about this subject in his article: Moons, Months & Cycles: Unusual Metaphoric Timing Symbols in Dreams.

The number of objects can represent time periods

Joseph, our biblical dream interpreter, interpreted several dreams that had timing indicators. In each case, the number of items corresponded to units of time. In these dreams they represented days or years:

  • The cupbearer in Genesis 40:9-14 dreamed of three branches on a vine, which produced clusters of grapes. The three branches represented three days. Presumably this was because serving wine was his daily duty.
  • The baker in Genesis 40:16-19 dreamed of three baskets of bread. The three baskets also represented three days, presumably because he also served bread daily.
  • In Genesis 41:1-7, Pharoah dreamed of seven thin cows from the Nile, which ate seven fat cows. Then he had a similar dream where seven thin ears of corn swallowed up seven plump ears of corn. In both of these dreams, each of the seven objects represented seven years. This was due to the yearly harvest of crops, and Nile having an annual cycle.

I have never experienced this type of symbolism in my dreams, but you might find something like it in yours. If you do, share it in the comments below, I’d love to know!

More clues about timing in dreams

In this section I will share some general principles and patterns that can help with timing in dreams.

Dreams come in patterns and cycles

We often have numerous dreams about the same topic, which continue until we grasp their message, or they become relevant, i.e., they are a series of dreams. Watch out for these in your dream life, as they can help with timing:

  • Series of dreams can increase in frequency, and get closer together, as the time they refer to gets nearer. If we watch out for this pattern, we can gauge the timing better and be prepared.
  • Sometimes, as in the example of Joseph, a revelation or event needs to happen at a later time – before we can understand their meaning. We have no choice but to be patient until that happens.

You can read more about this – with some examples – in the following article: Patterns and cycles in dreams and their interpretations.

Picture of three bells hanging up in a row against the sky, with text: Dreams about significant life events and destiny can get closer and closer together over the years

Sometimes the timing is hidden

The hard truth is that we won’t always know when a dream is going to be fulfilled. Sometimes we are not meant to know! Even Jesus didn’t know the timing of everything while He was living on the earth; sometimes it is best that we don’t know.

  • Matthew 24:36, NASB But about that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 

At other times it is important for us to know. I have learnt to trust God that if we do need to know, we will be able to understand the symbolism – as long as we are prepared to work through the interpretation process.

Real life symbols as timing indicators

When Jesus talked to His disciples about events that would happen in the future, He gave them real-life signs to look out for:

  • Matthew 24:32-34, NASB  “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: as soon as its branch has become tender and sprouts its leaves, you know that summer is near; so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.”

The same can happen with our dreams: Something that happens in real life can bring to mind a dream we had – and can indicate that now is the time that the dream was talking about.

Normally, when this happens we feel a ‘nudge’ from the Holy Spirit – which feel like a sudden certainty that this thing relates to our dream.

Key times of year for dreaming

At certain times we are more likely to have dreams which have a future fulfilment.

In most countries, this would be around December/January – with dreams relating to the coming year. Additionally, in many countries the school year starts in August/September, so this is another prime time for longer-term dreams. There may be other significant times in your culture.

These are the times when God gives us a road map for the days ahead. So, around those times of year, be on the lookout for dreams that might be providing a longer-term perspective.

Interpreting dreams with timing in mind

We have considered many factors relating to timing in dreams, and it could seem quite confusing. What does this mean when faced with a dream to interpret?

This is the approach I use for my dreams:

  • I start by assuming a dream is about my current situation – or is answering the question I asked God the previous night. I try to interpret it in the light of those things.
  • If there are obvious timing indicators in the dream (e.g., right, left, front, back, days, times, seasons) I use those as a starting point. I also highlight the dream in my journal to indicate there might be timings in it.
  • If I don’t understand the dream, I come back to it a week or so later and have another attempt at interpreting it.
  • If I still don’t understand it, I assume I don’t yet have the key to unlock the meaning – and put it aside for a future review.
  • Some dreams feel like calling dreams, or like they have a longer-term outlook. They have a certain weight to them or contain specific promises. I highlight those and store them up for future reference.
  • I review my dreams regularly and look for patterns and timing indicators – to see if they are becoming relevant.

Personally, I find that about half of my dreams are about things relevant at the time of dreaming. The rest vary in timing between the coming few months and the next few years. A small number are about things further in the future.

Dreams must be reviewed regularly

Like Jesus said, when we’re not sure when something is going to happen, the answer is to stay alert! This is not a passive thing, it requires some planning and effort!

  • Matthew 24:42, NASB “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

I have come to the conclusion that the only real way to overcome timing issues is to review our dreams regularly. As the timing is often unknown, we must have them to hand (i.e. at the front of our memory) at the time they become relevant!

I have developed a system for reviewing my dreams. You can read about it here: How to review your dreams and learn from their messages. I recommend that you develop your own system too.

Keeping our peace

It is good to look for timing clues in dreams, as God does give us roadmaps for the days ahead, plus warnings too. But it is easy to become fixated, and worry that we will somehow miss a vital warning or timing indicator.

I have learnt to trust God, that He will grab my attention if it is important.

Dreams that are urgent usually feel urgent! We might wake up in a sweat, or with a sense of holy fear. If that happens, don’t delay in seeking God about the meaning. It could be urgent.

Otherwise, my advice is to remain at peace, and continue with the process as best you can. Trust God to mentor and guide you. It is God’s choice to communicate to us through a dream, and He determines when the interpretation is revealed.

Conclusion

We have seen that dreams vary greatly in their timings. Some are about things happening that same day, yet some will only be fulfilled years later. Understanding this principle helps us have realistic expectations as we interpret our dreams.

Although some timing dreams are literal, most are symbolic and the clues about the timing are hidden. There are some dream symbols to look out for, including:

  • Left, right front and back
  • Days, hours and months
  • Days of the week and specific times of day
  • Sun, moon and signs in the sky

It is helpful to know that dreams come in patterns and cycles, and that something may need to happen before we can understand them. The timing can be hidden until that point. Sometimes a real life event will remind us of a dream, and alert us that it relates to the current time.

And finally… the only real way to overcome timing issues – is to review our dreams regularly, so we have them to hand at the time they become relevant!

I hope you have found this article helpful. If you want to know more, do subscribe to my emails below to receive regular dream interpretation tips.

The purpose of this blog is to provide solid biblical foundations for interpreting dreams, change mindsets in the church, and encourage others to make their own dream journey. I am primarily a writer and bible teacher – who loves dreams, and I hope you will be inspired to learn to interpret your own dreams.

It is not currently my aim to routinely engage in dream interpretations or provide training, except through writing blog posts. You can read my most up to date position on interpreting dreams here: Requests for dream interpretations.

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3 thoughts on “Keys for understanding the timing of dreams

  1. Hi Jenny, thanks for this blog post! I would like to ask if you have any post on dates and numbers in dreams (e.g. an event occurring on someone’s birthday or seeing a specific number repeatedly in the dream).
    Thank you, and God bless.

    Like

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