A Behind the Back Pass

Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies.

–Nehemiah 9:26

In my younger days a basketball player in Louisiana mesmerized those who watched him play. His hair was shaggy and his socks were floppy. Yet he did things with a basketball that most had never seen. His name was “Pistol Pete” Maravich.

Maravich popularized the behind the back pass. As the ball went behind his back, defenses were left flat footed wondering what had become of the ball and where it would reappear.

Generations ago the book of Nehemiah recorded for us another behind the back pass. This time the pass did not make things harder for the defense. Instead it led to the breakdown of those who were promised so much by God.

The people of Israel had been rescued by God out of bondage in Egypt. He had sustained them through four decades in the wilderness. He had given them possession of the land promised first to their father Abraham. But now comfortably in possession of the land, they tossed behind them the law of God.

Their prized possession was cast behind them. Instead of looking into the law to discover God and his ways, they thought it wise to pursue life in their own wisdom and strength. How foolish.

The result of this pass was that they became disobedient, rebellious and blasphemous (Nehemiah 9:26). That is why the beginning of chapter 9 in Nehemiah recounts a great revival in which the people “read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day (Nehemiah 9:3).” This reading led to confessing sin for another quarter of the day.

Instead of the Book of the Law being cast behind their back, it was front and center.

Where is your Bible? Have you cast it behind you so that you can pursue life on your own terms? Have you simply laid it aside for a more enlightened approach to life? Do you still read it but somehow make it all about you? Do you use it to justify your own desires even though they be contrary to the very book you are reading?

The right thing to do would be to read it and confess that your ways have been contrary to it. In the end it should lead to blessing the Lord (read the entirety of Nehemiah 9).