And so 2018 has begun, with a no-nonsense rain on Old Year’s night and a viewing of the traditional ‘Dinner for one’…
“Same procedure as every year James”.
Winding down the week before school starts, my wife actually participated in a Rambo omnibus through all four movies in as many nights. I can watch Rambo before bed and sleep like a baby, strangely.
Rambo’s story, as with every story, as with all our days as with our lives has a beginning, middle and an end. Alpha and Zulu if we’re in the military, or Alpha and Omega if we’re Greek. ‘First Blood’, the opening movie released in 1982 was artistically the best and Sylvester Stallone’s favourite and by his reckoning, the final Rambo film comes in second.
It’s a fitting conclusion to the series; Rambo repeatedly tells the female protagonist Sarah to ‘go home’ as he believes she has no business in Burma and at the end of the movie, it is Rambo himself who goes home. The final crescendo of gore that ties off Rambo’s war-making is some of the most epic violence ever captured on film, perhaps with the exception of the opening scene of ‘Saving Private Ryan’.
To provide a few stats to flesh this out, according to Rambo wiki, in the final Rambo movie, 2008’s ‘John Rambo’, there is an average of 2.59 killings per minute, far in excess of the previous films. Most of a battalion of Burmese troops lie vanquished and in bloody heaps when the dust settles and the smoke clears. That’s typically around 300 soldiers.
The violence is not comfortable, however it is the nature of war and in every case, Rambo is reacting against an aggressor.
The protagonist is either reacting to abuse by police officers (First Blood, 1982), rescuing American POWs left behind in Vietnam (First Blood part II, 1985), rescuing his friend and local Afghans from the Soviet aggressor (Rambo III, 1988), or rescuing Christian missionaries and local Karen people from being abused by an aggressor (John Rambo, 2008).
In every instance, Rambo doesn’t seek out violence as a first resort, however once he is engaged, he finishes the battle. Injustice provokes a response.
Again according to Rambo wiki, apparently part of the inspiration for the final battle climax where Rambo wipes out most of a battalion with a .50 gun mounted on a jeep is the real-life account of Audie Murphy who performed a similar feat in WWII.
While watching this final scene, I considered what response might the massive and sustained injustice in the world provoke from God in all His holiness. It’s not as if He is ignoring it or is unaware of it.
As recorded in the book of Revelation:
“9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters,[e] were killed just as they had been.” (Revelation 6: 9 – 11, NIV)
A bit morbid you say? Distasteful? I’m not suggesting that God has need of a .50 jeep-mounted gun or a heavenly howitzer, but what I am saying is that when Christ does intervene directly, it’s going to be epic.
His people are being murdered daily for no crime, only for being Christians, by people who loathe, hate and despise God. Obviously they cannot mount an offense on Him, so they take it out on His children.
As with the first murder when Cain killed Abel, the innocent blood calls out for justice.
That is what I took out of watching Rambo. We’re not typically comfortable thinking about the wrath of God, especially on global terms, however we have to consider what sinful people get away with every day, and that God’s patience – though extreme – is not without limit.
Also, we have to consider that we are indeed to have the discipline of soldiers without taking up arms against human beings. God will conduct His campaign and rescue His people and punish those who hate Him according to His prerogative.
We only need to see to it that we endure, walk daily with Him and testify to His gospel.
In this new year, Onward Christian Soldiers.