Fill in the blank: “_______________ is in the details.” Who did you provide for the blank? God? The devil? Both answers have been given, but one fits the biblical evidence far better than the other.
Biblical prophecy is frequently quite detailed. Indeed, as we read Nahum 2, we could spend a great deal of time talking about the details of Nahum’s prophecy, which foretells the Babylonian conquest of Nineveh. That would no doubt prove, to some degree, helpful but it is beyond the scope of what we can hope to accomplish here. Instead, I want to focus on one glorious truth: that God is in the details. In the face of all the detail that is given about the fall of Nineveh, we read, “The LORD is restoring the majesty of Jacob as the majesty of Israel” (v. 2) and, “Behold, I am against you, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions. I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall no longer be heard” (v. 13). God would oversee and order every detail of Nineveh’s destruction.
The truth that God is in the details, as we see in Nahum 2, should help us in at least two ways.
First, recognition that God is in the details provides us with hope. As Christians, we want to move beyond the immediate mess of the world to the hope that God promises. One small step in doing that is to realise that God controls the mess of the world around us. Nineveh’s destruction would be brutal, as Nineveh’s mistreatment of Israel had been brutal, but God was in all of it. At no point did he lose control.
We see this played plainly in Scripture. God commanded Israel to observe the Passover for this very reason. Observance of the Passover feast served as a reminder to Israel of God’s past deliverance and provided hope that he could do more of the same in the future. The Lord’s Supper serves the same purpose under the new covenant. As we partake, we remember the deliverance that Christ achieved on the cross even as we look forward to the ultimate deliverance that he promises in the future when he returns. We are reminded of the hope of final resurrection as we remember that his broken body was restored to life.
Second, recognition that God is in the details serves as a warning. To arrogant Assyria, the Lord plainly declared, “I am against you” (v. 13). Paul urged his readers to consider the Old Testament stories as a warning to not repeat their sins. When we recognise God’s hand in chastening sinners, it should serve as a deterrent to us. We should be encouraged to avoid sin so as to avoid the chastening that sin invites. Nahum warns us of the way in which God responds to arrogance and violence. If we do not learn from the examples of those who have gone before us, we may well be doomed to follow in their steps.
As we reflect on this truth and hear the warning that God is “against” those who arrogantly and violently oppose him, we also do well to remember that God deals with his enemies in one of two ways.
On one hand, he fights against his enemies and will ultimately prove himself victorious in judgement against those who oppose him. Sometimes, we witness this judgement; very often, we do not. But we must allow the examples of divine judgement in the Scriptures testify to the fact that God takes sin seriously an opposes it.
On the other hand, God turns his enemies into his friends. Through the gospel, Christ receives the punishment for the sins of those who believe in him so that he can give them eternal life. If we resist God’s grace in Christ, we will be destroyed for our sins. If we receive his offer of grace, we can rejoice that Christ was destroyed for our sins so that we can forever escape the condemnation that we deserve because of our rebellion.
As you reflect on Nahum 2 this morning, notice that God is in the details and ask him to help you be encouraged where you ought to be encouraged and warned where you ought to be warned.