For behold, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve, but no pebble shall fall to the earth.
Every sifting comes by divine command and permission. Satan must ask permission before he can lay a finger upon Job. In actual fact, in some sense our siftings are directly the work of heaven, for in the text God says that He will "shake the house of Israel." Satan, like a slave, may hold the sieve, hoping for the worst; but the overruling hand of the Master is accomplishing His purpose by the very process that the enemy hopes will be destructive. Precious children of God, even though you are shaken, be comforted by the blessed fact that the Lord directs the whole process for His own glory and for your eternal profit.
The Lord Jesus will graciously and yet firmly divide that which is precious from that which is of little account. All are not Israel that are of Israel; the grain on the barn floor is not clean and pure, and so the shaking process must be performed. In the sieve, husks and chaff fly before the wind, and only solid substance will remain.
Observe the complete safety of the Lord's wheat; even a pebble has a promise of preservation. God Himself sifts, and therefore it is stern and terrible work; He sifts them in all places, "among all the nations"; He sifts them in the most effective manner, "as one shakes with a sieve"; and yet in all this, not the smallest, lightest, or most shriveled grain is permitted to fall to the ground.
Every individual believer is precious in the sight of the Lord. A shepherd would not lose one sheep, nor a jeweler one diamond, nor a mother one child, nor a man one limb of his body; nor will the Lord lose one of His redeemed people. However little we may be, if we are the Lord's, we may rejoice that we are preserved in Christ Jesus.
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.