The Long, Tragic Descent

Posted on December 28, 2021

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By David Ettinger

Somber Days
These are somber days here our our ministry, Zion’s Hope, Inc. At least for me they are.

I had a lengthy discussion with our President, Dave Rosenthal, in which we discussed his father – and founder of Zion’s Hope – Marv Rosenthal.

Marv has been a renowned Bible teacher for almost 6 decades, and gained acclaim back in 1990 with his groundbreaking book on prophecy, The Pre-wrath Rapture of the Church. The year before, he started Zion’s Hope, a biblical outreach to the Jewish people.

But about 5 years ago, Marv – then age 81 – began having memory problems and has slowly declined since. The past 6 months have been particularly bad for Marv as the ravages of his decaying mind have made it essential that he be placed in a facility.

Is This Necessary?
We are indeed fortunate here at Zion’s Hope that God raised up Dave to take over for his dad, and the ministry has grown under his leadership.

Despite this, we still live in the shadow of Marv’s descent. Yesterday, Dave filled me in on the various details regarding Marv. It would not be right to share those details, but many of you have been through this, and you can well imagine.

Personally, though I know God’s will and plans are perfect – in my flesh I can’t help wondering, “God, is this really necessary? Heavenly glory awaits; can You not just take Marv there now?”

Yes, I know there’s a purpose. I can see Dave getting opportunities to share the Gospel with the facility’s staff. Also, Dave has 3 teenage children and he tells me they are learning much from this experience. I have no doubt.

But I also think of the passing of the grandfather of one of the young ladies who works here. She told me that when her grandfather died at age 88 – 2 years older than Marv is now – his body was failing, but his mind was sharp. He had a decades’-long walk with the Lord, was completely at peace, and ready – even excited – about his coming entrance into eternity.

But this is not the case with Marv. Not even close. His long, tragic descent is distressing to hear about, and the fact that this man who has impacted so many lives for Christ has to endure such humiliation is tough to accept.

The Glory to Come
Yet, Marv’s scenario is nothing new. Nor was there anything new in 2017 when one of our Middle East missionaries – Tony Simon – died instantly in Iraq when late at night he was hit by a speeding car. He was 54 and left behind his wife and 3 young-adult children.

And there was nothing new a few months ago when our Foreign Field Director based in Jerusalem – John Theodor – died of complications from Covid-19. He was just a week shy of 54 and left behind his wife and 3 teenage children.

On the other hand, Marv has made it to age 86 and has had a long, full life of serving God and bringing glory to the Lord Jesus. And as the end draws nearer, he endures more physical suffering and indignities. Of course God has a purpose, but, again, thinking in the flesh, how I wish the Lord would just take Him home to glory. Now!

But alas, the words of Scripture come flooding over me. As usual, it is the apostle Paul who puts it all in perfect perspective. Accepting the truth that the human race – Christians included – is afflicted by suffering, Paul counters with another truth, one of joy, hope, and wonder. He writes:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).

So yes, as Marv’s long, tragic descent continues, there is this promise of glory which my frail, human mind cannot even imagine. But it is in God’s Word and therefore etched in stone.

Heavenly glory is just around the corner for Marv, and what is occurring now is not even worthy to be compared to it!