“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” – Luke 22:31-32 (NASB)
Prognosticators are coming out in full force predicting what the new year will bring. They look to the Mayan calendar, Nostradamus, astrology, and other “tea leaves” type of indicators while ignoring the only true indicator of the future – the Scriptures. The Bible has much to say about the future.
In considering the prophecies concerning the last days in Matthew 24:1-14, 1 Timothy 4:1-3, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, and elsewhere, the Bible clearly presents a tremendous catastrophic turn of events that will impact believers worldwide.
This impact is illustrated in Jesus’ dialogue with Peter when He said that Satan desired to have and sift “you” (Peter). Actually in the Greek, the pronoun “you” is in the plural. Satan had already claimed Judas, now he was after Peter and the other disciples. Prophetically, Jesus was warning His followers that Satan desires to sift each of us! The sifting that Jesus has in mind is the violent overthrowing of one’s faith!
Globally Christians are now experiencing that sifting. Personally, you may be experiencing that sifting as well! This past year may have been the greatest “sifting” of your faith that you have experienced. Yet we know that these last days are going to be those of unprecedented sifting!
Jesus’ dialogue with Peter gives us sound steps of action during these days:
- Warn of adversity: We should love enough to warn others as we see them vulnerable. Even after three years of discipleship, Peter still maintained deep spiritual pride that blinded him to his weaknesses. Jesus, however, could clearly see where Peter’s pride was taking him and He warned (not lectured) him of his peril. (See 1 Thess 5:14; Col 1:28.)
- Pray for victory: Jesus said to Peter that He was praying for him. He did not say that He was praying that he would escape the sifting, but that he would overcome the sifting. Like Jesus, we should be intercessors for others going through the sifting. (See Rom 8:37; Jn 17:15; 1 Cor 1:4-9; Eph 1:16-23.)
- Restore to Ministry: Jesus spoke of Peter being restored to the point of strengthening his brothers. To the disciples’ credit, they did not reject Peter after his sifting. Instead, they restored him to fellowship and to leadership. May we find ourselves restoring those who have been sifted! (See Gal 6:1.)
As we face the new year, and beyond, may each of us do so with the confidence that Jesus anticipated the attacks on our faith; that He is praying for us; and that we must warn, pray, and restore others who will be sifted.