Have you ever seen a yield sign as you drove down the road? You know, those white triangular signs with red stripes that say, “YIELD” in big red letters on the front? If you, like me, are learning to drive, or if you’ve already got your license, or if you just like to sit in the front passenger seat of your parent’s car, you probably know what it means. When I see a yield sign, I know that someone else has the right of way, and that if they’re coming, I need to stop, and give it up to them. In the same way, we need to yield to God.
We told the story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s pride in my Sunday school class this weekend. As I read over the lesson plan, listened to the story in “large group,” and then helped lead discussion afterwards, I was struck at how much I could learn from the story. So, now that I’ve had a couple of days to think about the lesson (and the answers my class gave), I thought I’d share what I learned.
Nebuchadnezzar (or King Neb, as the kids at my church call him) was the King of Babylon between c. 605 BC and 562 BC. During his reign, his kingdom was the largest in the world. Not only that, but there was no other king that could compete with King Neb’s accomplishments. He built the hanging gardens, conquered many nations, had dreams that foretold the future, and built a giant statue of gold. The problem? His pride. Long story short: King Neb was proud, God sent him a warning, the King didn’t listen. When Nebuchadnezzar praised himself, God exiled him to live with the beasts of the field for seven periods of time. After that time was up, God gave him back his sanity and returned the kingdom to the King. Needless to say, Nebuchadnezzar learned a lot after his time with the animals. Especially about who deserves the glory.
Look at this. Right before Neb was exiled, he exclaimed:
“Is this not Babylon the Great that I have built by my vast power to be a royal residence and to display my majestic glory?” (Daniel 4:30 HCSB, emphasis added)
And directly afterwards:
“But at the end of those days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven, and my sanity returned to me. Then I praised the Most High and honored and glorified Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are counted as nothing, and He does what He wants with the army of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can hold back His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?'” (Daniel 4:34-35 HCSB)
Before his experience, King Neb was proud of his gift and assumed all of the glory for it. He said, look at me! I’m am so great! I’ve conquered nations, built majestic things, and I govern this great country. In his heart, he decided to take all the glory for himself. Let’s go back to the example of a yield sign. King Nebuchadnezzar saw the sign (through the warning God gave him), but ignored it and sped on through. In essence then, God gave him a ticket for his disobedience. Once he realized how wrong he had been, he repented, and yielded the glory to the One who deserves it.
After hearing the story my class went back to our room for “small group.” After discussing the story a little, we asked how people assume the glory for their successes. But even as we discussed it, my heart sank. I know that I don’t always give God the glory He deserves. I might yield to other drivers on the street (for fear of a ticket), but I often don’t give God the glory He deserves.
Let’s go back to King Neb. Who allowed Nebuchadnezzar to rule his kingdom? God. Who allowed him to conquer nations? God. Who allowed him to lift his sword? God. And finally, who allowed him to breathe? I think you know the answer. You see, I don’t have King Neb’s gifts, but I do have some of my own. I might not rule a nation like Nebuchadnezzar did, but I’m pretty darn good at math. I might not fight well (ask my brother who wins when I try to fence against him), but I can paint. So while I listened to the answers of my Sunday school class, my mind reverted to the drawing that I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. How often when I showed it off to friends did I give God the glory? When I play sports, and my team wins, do I recognize that it is only by my Creator’s gift of strength that my team could win? Do I attest to His gifts to me when I do really well on my math exams? Most often, I don’t. So this week I’ve been trying a little harder to be humble. Because how am I any better than King Neb? In fact, unless I repent of my wrongdoing, I’m actually worse than he is in God’s eyes. God deserves the glory, and we must yield.
So how about you? Have you ever seen a yield sign? Have you ever thought about what it means? Maybe next time you see one, you can remember this post, and remember to give the glory to the only one who deserves it. Because it’s just as important to yield to God in your heart as it is to yield to motorists on the road.