The Testing Time Is a Sifting Time

There is more comfort in the Scriptures than ever we have drawn from them, or ever shall. They are like the boundless ocean, while our need is like the bucket that is dropped into it. Take such a passage as this, "For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, YET SHALL NOT THE LEAST GRAIN FALL UPON THE EARTH" (Amos 9:9).

The words have special reference to the sons of Jacob, but they declare a great principle in the ways of God with His saints, and His never-failing care of His work in them in all dispensations, and they are written for our learning and comfort.

The true saints of God are the wheat, fair and priceless in His estimation, and it is necessary that they should be put into the sieve, that they might be ridded of the chaff, set free from all refuse forever. Yet in the sifting not a grain shall be lost. God Himself will take care of even "the least." What comfort there is in that!

The New Testament word is tribulation = tribulare — to rub out corn. The tribulum was a wooden instrument fitted with iron spikes for rubbing out corn. And though tribulation cannot be anything but grievous to nature, yet we shall glory in it if God's purpose in it lays hold upon us.

The sifting may come in various ways. In Simon's case Satan was permitted to use the sieve, and in it the adversary hoped to destroy him, but the result of the sifting was that he was freed from the chaff of self-confidence and boasting. A blessed result! The wheat remained uninjured. His faith did not fail (Luke 22:32). But whether the sifting comes directly from Satan, or through our circumstances — circumstances of sickness, pain, anxiety, bereavement, hunger, nakedness, peril or sword — "God is Faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13), and think well of the Lord's words to Simon, "I have prayed for thee." He ever lives to make intercession for us.