November 22, 2017

Dreams That Will Never Come True (1)

H. A. Ironside

This is Part One ♦ Part Two

(From Charge That To My Account by H. A. Ironside, Copyright, 1931, by The Bible Institute Colportage Association of Chicago)

“And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision. It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all nations be that fight against mount Zion” (Isaiah 29:7-8).

It is a recognized principle in homiletics, that is, the science of preaching, that the preacher should never take a text for a pretext, and yet I apprehend that is what I will be charged with doing now, for I do not call attention to this passage of Scripture with the thought of emphasizing its primary meaning, but rather to enforce a very important lesson.

Actually, this twenty-ninth chapter of Isaiah refers to an incident in Israel’s history, when Sennacherib and the Assyrian host gathered about Jerusalem and vainly thought that they would be able to destroy the city, sweep it out of existence, put the people of Israel to death, or carry them into captivity; and so Jehovah contemplates the enemies as coming down upon their prey. Already it seems to them that their purpose is accomplished. Jerusalem seems to be utterly defenseless against them, but the word of Jehovah, Who has never forsaken His people, and Who never will forsake those that put their trust in Him, says that they are not to be afraid of this great host, for all their evil thoughts will come to naught, and all their unholy ambitions will end in disappointment. “It shall be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against mount Zion.” That is, their dream of overcoming Israel would never be fulfilled.

But I am not going to occupy you with this thought, except to say that there is coming another day in the history of Israel when they will be in dire straits similar to these. They are already thronging back to Palestine, and have very bright hopes before them, but they will still have to face that sad and terrible time of Jacob’s trouble, called the great tribulation, the like of which they have never known in the past and never shall know again. Once more the Gentile powers will be gathered against Jerusalem and will seek to destroy the people of God, but again Jehovah will come to their defense and the Gentile nations will be disappointed, and their dream of destroying Jerusalem and the Jewish people will prove to be utterly unreal.

World Dreams

There are so many dreams that will never be fulfilled — that will never come true. First, there is the dream of finding heart satisfaction and soul rest in the things of this poor world. Have you been dreaming a dream like that? There are many different aspects of that dream. Some people imagine that they can find lasting enjoyment and true pleasure in a low vulgar life of abominable sensuality, and they fling to the winds decency and self-respect, and go down to the lowest depths of carnality and iniquity. Is there any real good to be found in a life like that? If you have tried it, you know in the deepest depths of your soul that you found nothing but sorrow and bitter disappointment. The incurable disease wards in our great hospitals all over this land tell what a wretched blunder men make when they try to find satisfaction or happiness in sensual living, “receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” If there is a young man or young woman who has so far forgotten what is true and right and pure as to imagine that it makes little or no difference if you swing loose from the ‘restraints of decency and allow yourself to fall into unclean living, and imagine you are ministering to the desire for happiness, some day you will wake up to find it is a horrid dream, “As when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth: but he awaketh, and his soul is empty.” There is no satisfaction to be found in sensuality.

Dreams of Worldly Pleasures

On the other hand, there are many who would look with abhorrence or disgust on any such life, but imagine they are going to find happiness and contentment in the respectable pleasures of this world. These people are of a different character from the grossly sensual. But tens of thousands, yes, millions have tried this before you, and not one man or woman has ever yet found heart rest in the things of this poor world. “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world; and the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (I John 2:16-17). That is why the world can never satisfy the human heart.

There is a striking passage in Ecclesiastes, in which Solomon tells us how he tried everything that his day had to offer, only to exclaim at length, “Vanity of vanity; all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). He gives the reason why the world cannot satisfy men: “He hath set eternity in their heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, R.V.). The Authorized Version does not bring this out; it reads: “He hath set the world in their heart.” But the original Hebrew really means “eternity.” How can a man created for eternity ever be satisfied with the things of this world? The old Puritans had a rather nice conception of it; they said, “The world is round; the human heart is three-cornered; you can never fill a three-cornered heart with a round world.” We sometimes use the figure of a triangle to represent the triune God, and so they used to say, “It takes a triune God to fill a triangular heart to overflowing.”

You may be trying to find satisfaction in the world. I can understand that, for I tried it myself. I know something of the meaning of the hymn:

“O Christ, in Thee my soul hath found,
And found in Thee alone,
The peace, the joy I sought so long,
The bliss till now unknown.

“Now, none but Christ can satisfy,
None other Name for me;
There’s love, and life, and lasting joy,
Lord Jesus, found in Thee!

“I tried the broken cisterns, Lord.
But, ah! the waters failed;
E’en as I stooped to drink they fled,
And mocked me as I wailed.

“The pleasures lost 1 sadly mourned,
But never wept for Thee,
Till grace my sightless eyes received,
Thy loveliness to see.”

Then I found a satisfaction that has lasted now for forty years, and it will last for all eternity. No, there is nothing in the world that will satisfy the human heart. The man who imagines that this world will meet the cravings of his soul, will someday wake up to find that he has just been dreaming, imagining he was finding peace and satisfaction, but his soul will be empty.

To be continued…


The name of Henry A. (Harry) Ironside is held in honor by thousands who were blessed by his personal ministry and by thousands more who have been blessed by his book ministry. Known as “a Fundamentalist of Fundamentalists,” Dr. Ironside’s Bible knowledge was unexcelled.

Many factors were involved in Dr. Ironside’s Bible knowledge. First of all, from his youth he was taught to honor God’s Word. At the age of 8 he read through the Bible once. At 9 he read through it twice. At 14 he read the Bible 14 times. And each succeeding year he read through the Word at least once.

When he was 12 years of age, Harry Ironside heard the great Dwight L. Moody in Los Angeles, California. Three things in particular about Mr. Moody’s preaching impressed the lad: the sermon was only 35 minutes long, it was interspersed with moving illustrations, and the speaker pressed for a decision on the part of his hearers. Young Harry prayed, “O Lord, help me to become a great preacher like Mr. Moody.” Years later — in 1930, to be exact —Harry Ironside had this prayer answered in a greater way than he had ever dreamed: Moody Memorial Church, which D. L. Moody had founded in Chicago, called Harry A. Ironside as pastor. Dr. Ironside held this pastorate for many years.

Originally published in Faith for the Family, July/August 1973. Used by permission.


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

Submit other comments here.