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The English word "sift" originated from an old Anglo-Saxon (the tribes of Germans that became the English) word which meant a sieve. Sift and sieve were actually just different pronunciations of the same word that later became two separate words in usage - sift a verb and sieve a noun. The Holy Bible itself uses the same structure in the Hebrew i.e. "to sift the nations with the sieve."
"30:27 Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire: 30:28 And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err. 30:29 Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel. 30:30 And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall show the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones." (Isaiah 30:27-30 KJV)
"The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us"
As stated in the Scriptures quoted above, the LORD "sifts" the good out of humanity by means of a "sieve" of righteousness. The physical nation of Israel was created (from those who are today called "gentiles" e.g. see Israel's Iraqi Roots) as a prefigure of the spiritual Israel to come (see Physical and Spiritual Israel). The land of Israel was a figurative prophecy of the coming Kingdom of God - hence the reason that King David is used as a prophecy of the King of Kings to come.
"9:9 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. 9:10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.
Since the "sifting" is a matter of separating the good from the evil (i.e. the "wheat from the chaff" - see Baptism Of Fire), Satan seeks to obstruct the refinement process whenever he sees it happening in someone (see Concupiscence).
"22:24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 22:26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. 22:28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 22:29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 22:30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Fact Finder: In what other way is the "sifting" described?