Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“For behold, I am giving commandment, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations,
as if it were shaken in a sieve, but the earth’s grain will not fall through.
The sinners of my people, those who say, ‘Evil will not come near or overtake us,’
will all die by the sword.”
Just how great do we believe our God is? How wise? How much control over His Creation does He exercise? David said God chastens the heathen as well as His own people. The wise prophet Daniel and the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar both understood that God alone determines who rules over the nations on this earth. Jesus said that God has numbered to you the very hairs of your head! And throughout the Bible, God is said to be in complete charge of every element of nature, not just the sunshine and rain, but the stormy winds and ice as well.
Just how much in command of the events and circumstances of this life do we believe God really is? The answer to that determines how much peace and understanding we possess. The prophecy from Amos 9, above, presents to us an astonishing view of God’s complete command of events in this world, and it calls us to faith in Him as master of His universe.
First, Amos’ prophecy is that God promised to scatter the Israelites among all nations, which He most certainly did. The Jews wandered among the nations for two thousand years before God brought them back to the land He promised Abraham and restored them as a nation in May of 1948. Hosea had prophesied (9:17) that the Jews would be “wanderers among the nations”, and they were.
But what God said He would be doing while the Jews were “wanderers” is the most amazing element of Amos’ prophecy, for He said that He would use that wandering process to sift out of Israel every soul that was joined to sin and rebellion. He is stating plainly that every soul would, over time, be destroyed out of Israel who would not confess that God is just and that the sufferings of the Jewish people were God’s punishment for their rebellion against Him. Over the centuries, those souls would be sifted out by the mighty hand of God, using evil men to accomplish His holy, though dreadful purpose.
On the other hand, not one “grain” of wheat, that is, not one Jewish heart that possessed some willingness to confess the truth will be lost to the sifting process. Which Jew died and which Jew survived Hitler’s awful Holocaust seems random to us because we have neither the power nor the wisdom to kill that many people without unintentionally harming some that we would want to save. But God is not a big one of us. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. Amos’ prophecy tells us that each Jew slain during the past two thousand years was slain only because God chose that specific life to be taken from the earth. God has never randomly done anything; why should we think He would randomly deal with His own chosen people?
When the Beast leads the armies of the earth against Israel in the final battle before the return of the Lord, God will determine which Jews are killed by the Beast’s armies (and there will be many) and which Jews will still be living to see Jesus come down from heaven to rescue them. The Beast’s attack on Israel will not be random. It will be the final shake of God’s dreadful sifter, and in that event, as in the events of the past two thousand years, not one grain of wheat will fall to the ground.