For, see, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve…
The winnowing of corn was effected in various ways. Sometimes by the mere operation of the wind blowing through the barns where it was thrashed, — when the worthless chaff was separated and dispersed. Which similitude well expressed the character and condition of the ungodly, who are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. As the action of the wind is very uncertain, the shovel was early used by agriculturists. The sieve and fan were, however, very soon invented and brought into use. Now, machines save much manual toil, and speedily and more effectually, answer the end proposed. The security of the true grain, amidst the winnowings to which in Divine wisdom it is exposed, is affirmed in our text.
I. THEY THAT WILL LIVE GODLY IN CHRIST JESUS MUST SUFFER PERSECUTION. Never can we be sufficiently grateful for the quiet and toleration we enjoy in this favoured island. Yet a degree of persecution winnows the Church at the present day. The finger of reproach is still pointed against the youthful convert, etc.
II. SEVERE TEMPTATIONS WINNOW CHARACTERS. Temptations are as various as our circumstances, ages, or peculiar situations in life. It may be some time before the particular trial, well adapted to reach our case, may occur. Poverty has proved a snare to many; prosperity to more. There are temptations which chiefly affect the mind.
III. ADVERSE OCCURRENCES MAY BE CONSIDERED AS THE SIEVE BY WHICH ISRAEL IS SIFTED. Personal adversity tries the character. Relative afflictions winnow our families. The Church has her winnowing times. At the period of death, the last and greatest extremity, the character is sifted as corn is sifted in a sieve. But the Lord commands His loving-kindness in the day of our trial, and in the night is our song to the God of our life. In conclusion, take a retrospect of all the way which the Lord our God has lcd us these many years in the wilderness. Various haw, been the sifting occurrences of our lives. Anticipate the period when we shall be finally sifted, and separated alike from the husks of our own imperfections and frailties, and the chaff of all carnal and ungodly associations.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.