Day of penance and prayer; K. Schilder; “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night”.

We have been called to a universal day of penance and prayer. The emergency continues; the spirits do not let themselves be bound. Not by us for that can be good for them and us. Not by God: for that will send us with them together to the ultimate judgement.

Day of penance and prayer!

It is certain that we shall hear words spoken in various churches about the approaching day of judgement. And we will hear said that the day is at hand, it is nearing, that the portents are there. We will hear that they are unmistakable. The much misused, often ill considered word “knowable or knowing” will again…..

Yes, what will it again?

Will that convenient word stir up the knowledge of faith? Or will it perhaps obstruct, delay, or weaken it?


It will certainly do the last unless we, on our day of penance and prayer keep ourselves conscious that the “day of the Lord” is nothing other than a matter of faith.
A matter of faith and therefore not to be proven!

A matter of faith, and so for those who also believe “on” Him never to “know” and still less to “calculate” it from omens.

Certainly there was once, around the year 29 A.D., a quiet hour during which Christ said to a few named disciples: when you see these things happening know that it is near, before the door.

But he, at least in the first place, also said that about the destruction of Jerusalem,. We can not give any other date to those words, nor allow Jesus’ gestures, when He pointed to that one city specifically, to turn into subtle and vaguely edifying ministerial gesturing. As if He had wanted to point, not to Jerusalem in particular but into unspecified space, to everything…..

Or someone asks; is the prophecy about Jerusalem’s fall not eschatological? And asks whether or not the destruction of that city is part of the great process of God’s ongoing work on His ongoing “day” by which He, at the end of the last spin of the world, finally brings to a full conclusion what was already revealing itself at Jerusalem’s downfall?

Certainly, we answer.

People think that the last things will be seven times seventy times more violent in their complexities than the first. Ever associating with whatever concrete situation exists at the time, whether political, social, national, or international, prophecy then becomes recognized in its preaching as the Prophetic Word. That the unseen powers, then  also working (at Jerusalem’s fall) visibly in these events by virtue of God and so a matter of faith, remained invisible, and on the one hand that the touchable, concrete and given reality of that past was only an initial outburst. Just as – on the other hand – while the severe entanglements, becoming ever severer and the knots closer together, and the complications more confusing, the energies working in all that exists both in church and world become all the more invisible, indiscernible, unknowable and unnameable as well.

So, in case the last is true, it will be harder for a genuine believing teacher to say what the eschatological omens are. While an unbelieving professor who begins with the idea that there is a church, which explains the bible should also find it more difficult, if going by the tenants and bible interpretation of that church, to establish which events are real omens that would shock it into watchfulness.

So that, indeed if the above observation and the words about those energies are true, any national spokesman who taking bites from the emergencies of the times sees opportunity to suggest to people that his words come easier and more pertinent is wrong, fearfully wrong. Totally wrong!  

Well, the last mentioned phrase, (that those energies work more and more invisibly) is true.

We not only learn from Scriptures, which tell us that, as far God’s continuing with the church goes, the signs (and so also those precursory omens as signs!) are already diminishing, and that, within this continuation, we should seek knowledge (nomina) more from unpopular speakers and look less for omens (omina-predictions which without knowledge of revelation are always false) from popular ones, but also see this in the natural unfolding of things, in the development of events.

What are wars for example; just to mention something?  Wars which in the past, when Christ prophesied on earth, were much smaller, more brutal and so much more earnest then for example modern wars of word and thought. It is not a visible war, nor famine, nor rumours when the press lies, changes the rules, write new principles on who pays, when war or peacemakers (both!) stir up sentiment in an dishonest way, create problems where there were none, plant hatred, not according to the thinking of the Spirit which directs all, but according the divisive principles of the “with or without us cliques”. All this shows a much stronger revelation, even internationally, of the same power that in the past and present bloody wars – wars that always stimulated ‘last judgement sermons’ – were only unleashed at the first onslaught.

Sensitivity for God’s “signs” will not exist so much among those who will “observe” what makes people flock  together eagerly and unwashed in the middle of the street for the popular preacher of alarm, expecting the appearance of the angels of judgement before their eyes. It will exist however with those who know how discern silent rumours. Those who remain silent, not so much when a rude prophet of lies yells so loud somewhere that it even reaches the papers, but when they hear Paul say in prose that God who is leading us on the way to the Antichrist will send an “energy” of (strong) “delusion”, so that they did not want the truth (truth of revelation), 2 Thess. 2.

Send”, - invisible in this context, and slow but unstoppable.  

“Energy”, (dutch: an error that works in -) an energy that is sent, something unobservable. Something that the pretending to be bed ridden, drum pounding doomsayer already is a victim of himself.
Delusion”, no, this is not the ringing curse, this is not what comes in the press. But this is what overcomes the press, what infiltrates it. This is the silent, soundless poison that also overcomes those who thunder so loudly against it. Even over us.


 Therefore we now come to the question whether or not our day of repentance and prayer will be spoiled.

No I will not deny that whatever is driving our times is indeed a deposit, an instrument, a keeper of and an opportunity for dispensing the powers that bring on the last day.

I only deny that one can say any doctrinal word on this point, without an only from the bottom up, visibly liberating faith. I deny only that the horrible things, which people as thinkers and writers have so quickly at hand, would have any real preparatory and warning message that is legible for the faith. I deny that people can see the day of the Lord approaching based on what appears in the press, and what duly disturbs the emotions or what rightly brings tears to the eyes.

But it is that we do not weep over our errors and instead silence and vilify anyone who attempts to ask, even if he is mistaken and also even in each other’s papers, whether there is perhaps a root of error with us. You see this is a much more serious sign then an earth quake. Word and Spirit must be a sign of the times for the “Reformatie” and visa versa (De Reformatie should be a sign for Word and Spirit) and this also goes for “De Bazuin” and “De Wekker”. But whoever sees it that way will be besmirched. People are only allowed to talk about eschatological things in generalities – with us, pitiful beings.

On account of this we have to understand three things on the day of repentance and prayer.

The great day will come but it comes as a thief -. Do not avoid that word. He comes unexpectedly. Naturally the Scriptures do not mean this for those who live in the jungle (Congo, or Guinea) but for those who are included in the circle of the revelation of the Word. “As a thief”: we, with all our sermons and words of the end time, will be greatly shocked and overtaken. That will be our last embarrassment, how thick skulled we are even in the last days. We do not listen attentively; we have no patience for silent rumours.

Be aware.

The great day comes, but it comes as a thief. Do not run away from that word. If we come to our senses, as to God, then we will realize that not the thundering curse issuing from “The Tribune” or the cruel picture of socialism (the Soviets) will encounter the greatest wrath in Heaven, no, that is our delusion. Punishment, retribution, an energy of error is our punishment oh God! Newspapers that sleep, Churches who praise diplomats; principles that are worn away, vague presuppositions that are loudly promoted as knowledge, youngsters going to extremes and who quickly make arrangements for the next party, problem solving that avoids the basic questions, - that is what it is. As preparation for the last day we have to sense our “delusions”. We observe so little of that, exactly as little as a sick person senses the bad air in his sickroom.


The great day comes, but it comes as a thief. Do not sink under these words. Because there will still be those who are not “dissemblers” and who will understand the “signs of the times”. They have tied knowledge and portent together (nomina and omina), and so they are so simple and yet so madly clever. They gave their hand to the angels and on earth continue working vigorously. “As a thief in the night” rings in their ears. Are these watchers then such a small minority, oh God?  The judgement will be held up by true and sincere prayer wherever significant numbers of believers are still taught to be watchful. The day of prayer and repentance is a moratorium for the last judgement. For if there are many who watch that great event can not yet happen. But the day comes, it (the day of God) continues, the separation between watchers and sleepers, the separation between seekers of knowledge (nomina) and the prevaricator of omens (omina), the separation of those who recognize error and those who display their disdain against the enemy with pantomime and jauntily maintain their position in their easy chairs. I know that it is now decided already and that it must go this way, and that it is the road along which He will come.



De Reformatie, XII, #9 Nov. 27 1931