29.—The Latter Days
The phrase “the latter days” occurs twice in the prophecy of Daniel, and therefore requires a word or two or explanation. The first place in which it is found is in chapter 2:28, where Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that what he saw in his dream was a representation of “what shall be in the latter days”; and the other place is in chapter 10:14, where a messenger from God tells the prophet that he had come to make him understand“ what”, said he, “shall befall thy people (Judah) in the latter days”, as represented in the vision of the 2400 evening-morning he had seen some years before. The occurrence of the phrase in these two places establishes a connection between the breaking of the image and the things pertaining to the Jews—in other words, between the fall of the Kingdom of Babylon and the setting up of the Kingdom of God.
It is important to the understanding of the prophecy that we should know the time referred to by the phrase. To ascertain this is easy. It may be known whether they are past or future by a certain event which is to transpire in the time they indicate. The event is predicted by Hosea in these words: “The children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, … afterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek Yahweh their God, and David their king; and shall fear Yahweh and his goodness in the latter days”. Here is a long period indicated, termed “many days”, during which the Israelites were to be without king, prince, or sacrifice. It is evident that that period is not yet ended, because they are still without those elements of their polity. The latter days cannot therefore be in the past; for the prophet says, “afterward” they shall return and seek David and Yahweh in the latter days. The latter days, then, are after the ending of the many days, and consequently still in the future.
The latter days are the latter years or “the time of the end”; and will be the most remarkable of any in the history of our postdiluvian world. They are denominated in Daniel, “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation to that same time”. This is conceivable when we come to understand what the scriptures testify is then to be accomplished. The Empire symbolized by the political Image is to be broken to pieces, and the fragments ground to powder in the latter days; Gog is to come against the mountains of Israel in the latter days; the twelve tribes are to return to the Holy Land in the latter days; the Star that has arisen out of Jacob, and the sceptre out of Israel, “shall smite the princes of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth; and Israel shall do valiantly” in the latter days (Num. 24:14–19); “a whirlwind of Yahweh goes forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind; it shall fall grievously on the head of the wicked. The anger of Yahweh shall not return, until he have executed, and have performed the thoughts of his heart; in the latter days, O Israel, ye shall consider it perfectly” (Jer. 23:19, 20; 30:19–24). The gathering of the peoples shall be to Shiloh in the latter days; and He shall rebuke strong nations afar off, and deliver Israel from the Assyrian in the latter days. In short, the latter days are “the Hour of Judgment” in which many of the dead are to arise, and the full measure of divine indignation shall be made manifest against “Christendom”, which has so long triumphed over God’s righteousness and truth.