lastlog just tracks user logins;
there should be a command 'lastlog' that you can run that reads this file and reports when the last time users logged in. there are some options to it if you want to review the man page for more info.
as far as messages... unusual.
try this if SELinux is set to Enforcing to see if it just has mislabeled contexts and syslogd is being denied access.
# restorecon -v /var/log/messages
# service rsyslog restart
# logger *****TEST*****
# grep TEST /var/log/messages