Ruf aus der Wüste 5.1: Hyde on the end time

The fifth, unnumbered chapter of Ein Ruf aus der Wüste is unstructured, so I am breaking it into sections at convenient points, but there really aren’t natural breaks of thought. One paragraph flows into the next. The content is strongly apocalyptic, and it’s in an apocalyptic context that Hyde will later discuss recent events in Missouri and Nauvoo and other topics, but this is also the most personal chapter. Hyde touches on his own life and perspective for the first time.

Some collected thoughts

According to the signs of the times and the prophetic words of an ancient Jewish prophet, the world is on the eve of miracles; indeed, strange and weighty changes are near at hand. The great work of preparation for Christ’s second coming has already begun, and although it still wavers at a child’s pace, it is quickly beginning to gain strength, and with joyful anticipation we look forward to that day when a glorious and honorable victory will crown our efforts, and the voice of our Lord will call to us: “You have done well, my good and faithful servants, therefore your efforts shall also be greatly rewarded.”

But since in these days the view generally prevails: that God no longer wishes to speak to people in our times, that the angels have long since finished their work and returned to their heavenly home, not to come again until the day of judgment—that people are no longer blessed by visions, that prophecies are absent and inspiration has departed from the Earth—so it is morally impossible to acquaint the world with the time and manner of its visitation, for its unbelief has blocked every channel through which the Lord hoped to teach it; therefore “the day of the Lord will come over this world like a thief in the night.” (1)

Even though convulsive tremors shake the earth like an aged paralytic and consuming flames reduce cities and villages to ash, while the servants of God who were called into the vineyard at the eleventh hour of the day go there to proclaim that the hour of His judgment has come—all that cannot overcome people’s unbelief. For they will continue to cling to the superstitious traditions of their fathers with all the vehemence with which the dying miser clings to his moldering treasures, and they will persist in their unbelief until the arrow of judgment pierces their heart and puts an end to their earthly course.

Noah was sent by the Lord to the peoples before the flood with a particular message; but they did not believe him, and they perished in their sins. They were told what was to come, and were warned of their danger in a believable way, but they regarded it only as a deceptive dream. They had eyes and did not see, they had ears and did not hear, and they had hearts but they did not believed or understand. Therefore the deluge came over them unexpectedly, although they were warned.

It is therefore necessary that some go ahead bearing a message before the Savior’s second coming; for He has said that a voice was heard at midnight: “Arise and go to meet the bridegroom.” — It is not necessary to state here that midnight is a time of great darkness, a time when the senses of the majority of mankind are immersed in deep and sound sleep, insensitive to their situation, not perceiving the approaching danger.

Whoever God honors by choosing him to be the bearer of a direct message from Him to this careless generation, as Noah was to those of his time, must accept ridicule, scorn, and contempt from the majority of mankind. — He will be called a fanatic, a deceiver, a false prophet, an enthusiast, a fool, a heretic, a blasphemer, and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. [88] He will be compared not only to Mohammad, but to every shooting star that has crossed the religious horizon since his day.

Who has enough will to stem the mighty flow of dirty water that flows from polluted sources?! Who by his own free choice would wish to dedicate his services to the Lord to proclaim His testimony in the face of a prejudice as severe and deep-rooted as any that has ever characterized a generation? As for myself, I answer: The Lord is my helper; in obedience to His command, I will go and make His will known, as He made it known to me, among all people, even if they should become my enemies on account of it and shower me with reproach, abuse and shame because I have remained faithful to the discharging of my duty. The Lord whom I serve will transform this shame into a glittering diamond to adorn my crown on that day when I will be told: “You have been faithful in few things, so I will set you above many things.”

Let no one despise this thing because it did not arise within the circles of the great or at the courts of kings. God can bring forth light out of darkness! For when darkness had spread its dark cloak over the chaos of this Earth on creation morning, he exclaimed: “Let there be light!” and light broke forth at once out of the darkness and rolled its glorious floods across the face of a new-born world as suddenly and brightly as ever a spark sprang from flint and steel!

Time will soon show how this little work will be received and how the people will act in relation to it. (2) In my opinion, however, it is of such a nature that no one will let it pass by with complete indifference. [89] Yes indeed; it must arouse some feeling! And however I may be judged for having written and publicized it, those who read it will surely approve of it.

Yes, I openly admit that the cause I advocate is the only one for which I wish to live and for which I am also prepared to die. It was not moments of religious excitement that drove me to give this testimony, no, but ten years, rich in experience, during which prosperity and misery alternated as my companions. (3)  I sometimes feel like a small ship (since I am absent from my fatherland) sailing on foreign and unknown waters that may conceal many a rock beneath their surface for the foreign sailor. And if I should suffer shipwreck beneath hostile storms on a foreign coast, do not worry for my sake, for my cargo (the soul) is insured for its full value in the dwellings of Heaven. Therefore I have nothing to fear but Him alone who can kill and bring back to life! I was left an orphan early on—no fatherly eye looked at me, no mother’s heart beat for me anymore. The hand that quieted my childhood tears lay motionless, and the breast that once nourished me had become cold in death.

For twenty long years, I did not know anyone in whose veins the blood of a friend flowed for me. Thus I did not enjoy those advantages of a structured education that so many possess and that are so desirable. But since there are few people, no matter how insignificant their acquired skills may be, who, at the sight of their neighbor’s house in flames, would not call out to its residents to flee in order to save themselves—I feel to act just the same when I look through the lens  of holy scripture at the world and see it so blindly flowing towards the brink of a shameful abyss, while revolutions, upheavals, bloodshed and flames of consuming fire stand ready to put an end to the inglorious kingdom of Satan, under whose oppressive tyranny the Earth has sighed for almost 6000 years—indeed, I feel a spirit rise in my breast that triumphs over every weakness of my nature [90]. And if I should fail to proclaim repentance and conversion to all classes, degrees and professions of men and women as far as power and opportunity are granted to me, “the stones would call out” in my place. The ordinances of the house of God have been changed, His laws have been transgressed, and the covenant between Him and His people has been broken, therefore the Lord’s displeasure burns against this generation, whose future history can be read in part in the 24th chapter of the prophet Isaiah. And I feel authorized to say: that it will be well with every man, woman, or child who reaches the age of reason if they repent and humble themselves before the Lord, and if they are baptized in water for the remission of their sins so that they may receive the Holy Spirit for the remission of their sins. In this way must a people be gathered together in faith, virtue, and righteousness, so that when the first resurrection takes place (which according to the words of the angel will take place in this generation) they may be changed and “caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, to be with Him forever,” as Paul has explained in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. (4)

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(1) As previously noted, Hyde’s view of universal apostasy is quite stark.

(2) The “little work” Hyde refers to is his own book, Ein Ruf aus der Wüste.

(3) For the first time, Hyde describes his own life and personal perspective.

(4) A mid-air rapture is uncommon today in our contemporary discussions of the end time. Near-term expectations of Christ’s second coming are perhaps less common in some settings, but are very much alive in others.

5 comments for “Ruf aus der Wüste 5.1: Hyde on the end time

  1. His fervor and personal motivation are impressive. His message sounds harsh to my modern ears. Today our missionary message is based more on love and happiness than on escaping fiery judgment. Any idea about which angel said the first resurrection would happen in “this generation?”

  2. Thanks for this.

    “The ordinances of the house of God have been changed”
    What was the German word translated here as “ordinances”? Does it have the same ambiguity (rule/rite) that “ordinance” had and has in English?

  3. Jonathan: You may have already addressed this in a previous installment. Do you think Hyde composed the Ruf in his native English and then translated it (or had it translated) into German? Or, do you think Hyde composed the Ruf in German?

  4. Wondering, the German word is Anordnungen: “Die Anordnungen des Hauses Gottes sind verändert…” The basic meanings include “legal decree” and I’d be hesitant to give it our present meaning of “ordinance”- except that previous passages have made it clear that the “rite” sense of “ordinances” is intended. Clear enough to me, at least; someone else might disagree.

    Mark, I’m certain that Hyde composed the work in English and then had it translated. The translator may have had some linguistic idiosyncrasies, and Hyde may have learned enough German to have some input, but the literary language and style of the translation is not the kind of thing Hyde could have pulled off on his own. This puts me at odds with Marvin Folsom’s take.

  5. Stanton, I’d guess that Hyde sounded kind of normal for an American missionary tract of the time, and not entirely out of place even in a European context. But as you say, modern ears are different. As for the angel, I’d guess Hyde is referring indirectly to Moroni in JS-History 1:45 (which is about end-time calamity but not the resurrection itself).

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