There are at least three different types of visions that someone may experience during these times. These would then fit into these categories:
"Seeing something with the eyes of one's heart--" I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, Eph. 1:18. I believe perhaps, that some of what we hear in the form of prophetic words occurs in this form. The Lord will "impress something on the heart of the person." The next level may well be "seeing a picture or a scene, which the Lord "shows" us as we are listening to Him speak. We would be experiencing a conscious presence of the Lord, and His anointing would be very much present in what we are experiencing. I would coin the next level of revelation, one of "open visions." This would be when what we experience or see, would be one of an external vision, and is very much like viewing a movie screen. Now, to be sure, we could probably pull ourselves away from the scene or vision, which we are experiencing, but it is something "right in front of us," and it captivates the viewer's attention to such a degree, that it is predominant over anything else at the time. The last level of revelation would come forth in the form of a trance. Trances would be like dreaming when you are really awake. They may range from the very mild to those where you feel or sense, that you are actually there. Ezekiel experienced much of this type of vision or trance, as did John in the book of Revelation.
Ezekiel describes one such vision in Ezekiel 1: 4, and begins by stating this first:
1. In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw (visions of God. ) I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north--an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, 5. and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, 6. but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8. Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, 9. and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. 10. Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. 11. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body.
He goes on to describe in great detail, about the wheel, the wings of each of the four creatures, and how they moved. So, in essence here, he is describing an "open vision," in which it is external to himself, and something which he is very much a part of.
We have some guidelines for judging prophetic words which are found in I Co. 14 :29: Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. Should there not be some form of judging visions as well, and then, how might this be done? Obviously, this becomes more difficult, because these visions are something which the individual person experiences personally. But I believe, that the same form of criteria which is used for discerning prophecy should and could be used in evaluating a vision. This is why then, discerning of spirits becomes an equally important gift for the body of Christ today. And I must say, that any vision, impression, or trance, should be able to be substantiated by the word of God, and by those who "hear" what is being said.
In Acts 10, we have an account of Peter who experiences perhaps a trance:
Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." 14. "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean." 15. The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." 16. This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. 17. While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon's house was and stopped at the gate.
Here we find that Peter was wondering what the vision meant, and later was given revelation concerning it. This is important to note, because we must ask and not merely "assume" that we know what something means to us at the time. Indeed, He will reveal to us oftentimes, in the midst of the vision, what it means, or we may have an "impression" as to what it might mean. Here is where our asking of HIm, and in our search for truth and answers in His word will prove to help substantiate what we have seen, and then to verify this with the scriptures.
I know that there are many forms of visions which the prophetic community has experienced, and will continue to experience in their times with the Lord. My intention is not one of criticism here, for I am one who sees visions on a regular basis, as I know that there are others out there as well. I just have not heard or seen any articles on this sort of thing, and thought that it might prove to be of importance to us as a prophetic and apostolic community.
Perhaps there are very few who have abused this gift or ability from the Lord. I just don't want us to accept blindly every thing we hear or see. It can be very easy to become deceived, and what we may well consider to be a vision from the Lord, may well be something which was manufactured by our own selfish desires or a mind given to fantasies.
25. "I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, `I had a dream! I had a dream!' 26. How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? 27. They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their fathers forgot my name through Baal worship. 28. Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?" declares the LORD.
We do have a promise though of what the Spirit of God will do, and has being doing now for some time as seen in Joel 2:
28. `And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
May we as a the body of Christ come to a place where we truly do see what He is showing us, and then share it in a way that builds-up the body unto maturity. May they not be the delusions of our own minds or hearts, but truly be things we have seen and heard from the Spirit of God.