J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 3.)
The term "Last Days" is a word not without importance, as common to both the Old and New Testament - very common in the Old. There it is constantly accompanied with promises. "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains"; He would "pour out his Spirit on all flesh"; this last, however, though quoted by Peter as in the last days, is in Joel, "thereupon" or "afterwards," chap. 2:28. Still it is quite the last days, the Northern army being removed. Still it would be a time of trouble to break them down.
The Prophets having spoken to Israel or Judah, in the last of these days, i.e., in the patient ways of God when really responsible Israel had failed, God spoke in the Son - the Law and Prophets had been till John. Then the Kingdom was announced as to be set up. Thus the last days set in. Till Israel rejected Christ in the world, and even till the glorified Christ was rejected, His return was promised - the closing in in blessing was held out as possible - the Spirit was poured out - Messiah would have come back; so that this was "The last days."
For a moment the blessing and power then eclipsed dispensations, but this soon failed, and prophecies of the last days, as they now concerned the Church, came to it in its turn. Then we read, "In the last days perilous times shall come" (2 Tim. 3); "In the last times some shall depart from the faith" (1 Tim. 4); "In the last days there shall be scoffers" (2 Peter 3); so Jude 18. "In the last time" (1 John 2:18) is more definite - Antichrist characterises the last time, and there were many already. Antichrist denied the Father and the Son - rejected, or was apostate, from Christianity - and the liar denied Jesus to be the Christ.
There was Christian apostasy and Jewish unbelief, but there are, remark, no promises connected with the testimony of the last days as to Christianity. That day - the day of the Lord - will be darkness and judgment for the Jews - it is "The day of Jacob's trouble," but he will be delivered out of it. Hence there are blessings and promises which accompany it, as we have seen, and both temporal and spiritual ones, but there is no restoration of Christendom. The Remnant of course will go up to heaven to meet the Lord, but the system is for ever cut off and not restored at all - Israel is by grace, though not by the old covenant.
2 What is given us, however, of the last days, or time, in Christianity is its character, not its judgment. The "last time" is denoted by open rejection and apostasy - John giving its ultimate form, "They went out from us." The "last days" then is "the form of Godliness, denying the power," "turning the grace of God into lasciviousness," "scoffing at the Lord's coming."
The "latter times" in 1 Timothy 4 is a more general expression, and not of the final character of evil in the Church, though it may continue to the end - it is husterois kairois (latter times). Though husteros compared with others, is "the last," yet both eschatos (last, uttermost) and hemera (day) are more defined and precise. But the main point is, that no blessing is spoken of as accompanying them.
Numbers 24:14 and Deuteronomy 4:30, clear up the expression. Genesis 49 gives the whole history of Israel, as a result, to the end. Ah-Ghareeth Yohm (in the latter days) is the constant expression in the Old Testament; in Jeremiah 23:20 it is the same.
In a certain sense, i.e., as regards man's position here below, the Law or Word creates the way, as noted as to Christ in John; for there is no way in a fallen world whose whole state, in relation to God, is evil. But He can show a new way, which is the expression of His will, in those that are His in this world. It will make them strangers, and so it always has, as we see in the Psalms, and from Abel on. The difference of Psalm 119 and Christ is, that that is a way for the world in it, looking for deliverance - Christ, a heavenly way out of it.