Marv who, I hear you ask? Marv Rosenthal was one of the greatest Bible teachers I’ve ever known. He passed away earlier this year at age 86 (graduating this life with high honours in Christ), and it got me thinking about all he’s taught me. It was largely due to Marv that I developed my deep interest in eschatology. I still remember that lightbulb moment reading Zion’s Fire magazine about ‘the four beast empires’ of Daniel 7, that these empires never entirely disappeared, but have re-emerged today in new forms – as has Israel. For me, Old Testament prophecy came to life!
I still own the entire 40-hour cassette teaching series on Revelation. And I recall my shock reading his book ‘The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church’: his deep study of Scripture brought him to the realisation that all he’d believed and taught about the end times up that point was wrong. His biblical convictions forced him to abandon his previous views – along with his job and position – becoming a pariah amongst the evangelical stream from which his views diverged. But true scholarship means diligently seeking the truth – following it wherever it leads, whatever the cost.
Marv was a most unlikely candidate to be a great Bible teacher. He was no trained scholar – never finished high school. His grandparents were Jews who fled to escape the pogroms in Russia (think ‘Fiddler on the Roof’). His single mother Yetta raised 3 sons in a poor, strictly Jewish neighbourhood of Philadelphia. When Yetta (through a miraculous encounter and the persistence of a Jewish missionary) discovered Y’shua as Messiah, the community exclusion and persecution which followed was intense. Marv joined the Marines to escape, becoming a decorated veteran of the Korean war; then a professional dance instructor winning national competitions! Finally, like Jonah, when he couldn’t run from God any longer, he knelt and prayed, ‘Jesus, if you’re truly the Messiah, then I’m yours’. And everything changed. The Marine motto ‘always faithful’ became his key principle of life and ministry.
So why this tribute? Because Marv was such an ordinary man used by God in the most extraordinary ways: as a pastor, founding Zion’s Hope ministries, Zion’s Fire magazine, leading Bible conferences, teaching constantly, and against all odds establishing ‘The Holy Land Experience and Scriptorium’ in Orlando Florida: bringing the Bible to life in its original context. To Marv – to faithfulness.
*Watch the YouTube video below to hear the incredible story of Marv’s life and listen to his son’s funeral tribute: Marv Rosenthal