Sifters, sieves, strainers and screens can all do the same thing: they filter out desired items and trash garbage.
In Amos 9, God is pissed. He’s angry. So angry he threatens to use a sieve to filter out sinners from the faithful.
He warns that no matter where these infidels go–whether in hell, heaven, the tops of mountains, the seas or in the camps of enemies–“I will fix my eyes upon them for evil and not for good. I will command the sword and it shall kill them.”
The chapter then goes on to describe this Angels-leading God, one whose powerful touch melts the earth–a God whose chambers are heaven and who founded his vault on the earth.
In verse 10, before a switch to grace, God says, “All the sinners of MY people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.”
Verses 11-15 speak of restoration, though. God decides that Israel’s mountains should drip new wine, its fields to be lush with fresh vegetation, and that the fortunes of “MY people” shall be renewed.
Jesus also speaks of sifting true believers from false believers. Wheat stays. Tares get thrown in the fires of hell. Sheep are his. Goats are not.
And while God might consider the worldwide community of Christians “MY people,” not all church-goers are sheep. Some are unrepentant, rebellious sinners who don’t know God and will go to hell.
As Christians, we don’t celebrate this truth. We lament it. We repent of our own sin to guard against this horror and pray that false converts might truly meet Jesus before God kills them. We petition that Jesus’ wine-filled, fortune-teeming life would be so irresistible to them that they’d trust in him and have protection from the wrath of God and true happiness in God.
Verse 11 could be our mold for these prayers:
“God! Repair the breaches of satan! Raise up the ruins of our sinful hearts. And rebuild Jesus’ newness inside us!”