Today’s Scripture: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Isaiah 14:12-14

From his youth to the time he took his last breath, Joseph Stalin was a rebel. Whether he was robbing banks and organizing kidnappings in a Russian resistance movement as a young man or manipulating his way to the top position in the Soviet government as a middle-aged adult, Stalin was out to please one person: himself. He ruthlessly destroyed anyone who stood in his way. It has been estimated that as many as 43,000,000 people were killed under his leadership.

As she watched her father on his deathbed, Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana, said this:

“The death agony was terrible…He literally choked to death as we watched. At what seemed like the very last moment, he suddenly opened his eyes and cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane or perhaps angry and full of fear of death…Then something incomprehensible and terrible happened that to this day I can’t forget…He suddenly lifted his left hand as though he were pointing to something up above and bring[ing] down a curse on us all. The gesture was incomprehensible and full of menace…The next moment, after a final effort, the spirit wrenched itself free of the flesh.”

You’d probably never guess that at one time, Joseph Stalin went to an Orthodox seminary to become a priest, but it’s the truth. After dropping out, he chose to get involved in the revolutionary ideas and practices which played a major part in his dictatorship.  Rebellion never stops — it only gets worse. Unless it is dealt with in its early stages, it will soon be impossible to turn around.

The path Joseph Stalin chose toward flat-out rebellion against God was first taken by the devil himself, and it has been followed by many atheists since. Beware of choosing the same path, for there are few that turn back. Search your heart for any areas of rebellion against God. One act of defiance can send you down a course you never would have thought possible.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder