Psalm 126:1-6 – When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
The remnants of Israel were shocked. The returnees were shocked. The heathen and onlookers were also shocked, that their God had done great things for them. May you be shocked by what God will do for you. May those who see you be amazed as well in Jesus name.
This was the experience of Israelites having spent 70 years in exile. The king of their captive country made a decree for them to return and not to return empty. Even provision for rebuilding their nation was made by the foreign king.
Ezra 1:1-11 –Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem. And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.
Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives, Thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand. All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.
I have come to know that in life it is possible to fake a smile, but it’s almost impossible to fake laughter. May you truly laugh throughout this year in Jesus name. Also, many can mutter melodies; few do sing songs of joy. You will among those who sing for joy.
In Luke 5: 1-10, Peter went fishing with his brother to feed their families. Their main dish in Israel been bread and fish/meat, with lots of children in each family to feed. On that night they caught nothing.
They were washing their nets to go back home empty when Jesus stepped into their case. A few hours later, their boat and that of John and James Zebedee boat were sinking with great draught.
– You may have toiled for a long time with little or no result; you will however not return empty. Whatever ‘return’ may mean to you, it shall not be empty.
– There is someone here, you have considered calling off a pursuit for lack of result. Jesus is stepping into your case now.
– Another fellow, you are facing challenges regarding what you will feed your household with; may God shock you with abundant supplies and overwhelming blessings.
In Gen. 32:10, the Bible makes us know that Jacob left Canaan with the clothes on his back and a staff in his hand. He sojourned in Syria with Laban for about 20 years. Laban wanted Jacob to serve him indefinitely or return home empty with 2 wives and eleven children to feed.
God, however, did not allow both negative circumstances to happen.
Jacob returned home shortly after with huge possessions orchestrated by God miraculously.
– God asked me to tell someone here that the best clothe you came with will be your cheapest clothe very soon. I’m sure Jacob did not wear that particular clothe back home 20 years later. You too will give the one you came with away.
– There is someone here; some people have collected all that should belong to you. You will yet be greater than them.
– To another person, you came to this land by the cheapest possible means; I prophesy that you will soon be riding on ‘horses’ and ‘camels’ of our time.
The children of Israel served the Egyptians for several years in torment and hardship. Life was very unbearable for them. Finally, God raised Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go to worship Him, which he refused. Later Pharaoh agreed that they could go, but go empty (Exodus 10:24-26). God however intervened, when they eventually left, they went out with great riches (Exodus 12:35-36).
– I pray for you, your sweat will not be in vain.
Every torment you have been through will turn now to pleasure.
Your years of oppression are now turned to years of promotion.
May you spoil all your enemies in Jesus name.
David and his men went to look for what their families to eat, by the time they came back, the Amalekites had taken their families and their belongings away (I Sam. 30:1-19). They wept like babies and then sought to kill David.
God, however, helped David so that with 400 tired men, they didn’t only recover their families and belongings; they even brought back spoils of war from the Amalekites.
– There is someone here; the enemy is trying to put his finger in your household. The Lord God that helped David will help you.
Your family will be fully recovered.
Your belongings will be fully recovered.
You will recover all without fail.
Time will not permit me to speak much about Job and Naomi.
For Job, he suffered for righteousness sake. He lost everything he had and owned. He was to return to his Maker empty, but God didn’t allow it.
He was later blessed with 7 sons and 3 daughters; with great wealth (Job 42:10).
– You are here, you have lost things that are precious to you, God will give you double of such things back in return (except husband or wife), may their love for you increase though.
May people that thought you are cursed by God come to know that you a special favoured of the Lord.
For Naomi, she and her husband with their two sons went to sojourn in Moab when there was famine in Canaan. Their sons got married there, so their family became six people. Suddenly, they reduced to three, women only. So Naomi prepared to return home empty. God, however, touched the heart of Ruth to follow Naomi as a seed. From that one seed, Naomi became the grandmother of Obed. What a Messianic lineage was raised through her. She actually didn’t return empty.
– May the ‘Ruths’ in your life cling to you.
The Elimelechs, Mahlon, Chilion and Orpha may have left you, but may your Ruth remain. I called your Boaz to come forth. May your Obed, Jesse, David and Solomon follow after you in Jesus name.
You may be here and be thinking “but I don’t have anywhere I am returning to”. I have been asked by God to tell you that news will soon circulate around that you are no longer as you were before.
Jacob thought Joseph had died. His 10 brothers thought he must be languishing as a slave somewhere. Thirteen years later, they found out that he had become a magnificent fellow in Egypt.
– May the news of your success travel far.
Abraham was 75 years when he left home, his wife about 65 years. They were known to be barren from home. When God called him, some might actually think he was running away from shame. About 65 years later, those people suddenly heard that Abraham and Sarah are now seriously rich and are looking for a wife for their son who was then 40 years of age.
– May the news of your fruitfulness and increase spread abroad, to even the place of your origin. Those that have written you off, may they marvel at what God will turn you into.
What must I do not to return empty?
- Be obedient to God. Peter obeyed Jesus.
Isaiah 1:19-20 – If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
- Trust in the Lord. Job trusted in God. Charles Spurgeon says “you may not have seen God’s hands, but trust in His heart”.
Isaiah 25:9 – And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
- Sow sacrificial seed continuously. Peter sowed his boat and time.
Ecclesiastes 11:6 – In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.
- Win souls. Paul won many souls.
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 – For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.
As I conclude, after giving our lives to Christ, God expects us to work for Him by telling others about the good news, such that one day is coming when we shall stand before the judgement seat of Christ to receive rewards of what each of us has done here on earth as a believer.
It is my prayer that when you and I stand before Jesus on that day, may we not appear empty in Jesus name.
Father, in physical terms, let me not return empty.
Father, in spiritual terms, help me not to return empty.
The sermon, You Will Not Return Empty, by Pastor Samuel Obafaiye, was delivered on February 25, 2018.