I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the Lord my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain. As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. He explained to me, “Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision.
“A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One—comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times.”
The Bible often uses round numbers to make a point, not to give an exact count. For example, Jesus said we are to forgive others “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). He did not literally mean that we should do this only 490 times, but that we should be abundantly forgiving. Similarly, some scholars see the figure used in this passage as a figurative time period. Others, however, interpret this time period as a literal 490 years, observing that Christ’s death came at the end of the 69 weeks (483 years later). One interpretation places the seventieth week as the seven years of the great tribulation, still in the future. Consequently the number would symbolize both the first and second comings of Christ.
The beautiful part of Daniel’s experience is Gabriel’s response in Daniel 9:23: “The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.” Just as God answered Daniel’s prayer, you can have confidence that God hears and answers your prayers. You are precious to God. Do you believe that?