The interpretation of verses 24 to 27 is remarkable and is given only to one who is as “highly esteemed” as Daniel is. He is called such in verse 23 and it is to him whom this message is relayed. A direct translation of highly esteemed would be “greatly loved or desired”. What Gabriel says is how God views Daniel. We will get there … but on another two occasions we hear the same phrase …
Dan 10:11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.”
Dan 10:19 “Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”
The idea here is similar to when Gabriel visited Mary with the news of her pregnancy:
Lk 1:28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
God used and still uses people He prizes. In Daniel’s case, if he did not “qualify” as one who was highly esteemed in God’s eyes, the answer to his prayer with the amazing content (information / prophecy) would not have been given to him.
1) Many scholars, many books and many ideas. Like with all apocalyptic literature, unless you have the keys to unlock what is being said, you get it wrong. Countless commentators have applied their minds and written at length what they believe this passage and in particular what verses 24 means.
Da 9:24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.”
It is prudent to remember the history of these people before deciding what we want the verse to mean. The people are in bondage for that is what exile was. Their temple and city were destroyed. The temple had been used for pagan sacrifices. God was no longer in the Holy of Holies because that place was raised to the ground. As a people they were far from their land … banished to a pagan land under pagan rule. Then, Daniel through the study of Jeremiah finds that the period of punishment (exile – bondage – slavery) is practically exhausted and seeks God’s face in “true prayer” (chapter 9:4-19) … and now the angel Gabriel brings God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer.
(1) A definite period is meant by “seventy sevens”. Sevens is usually translated weeks. Does it mean in this case there are seventy of them? The way “sevens” can be used in an unusual sense means “divided into sevens” … seven divisions such as an ordinary week with seven days. But for us, how long is “sevens” as it is used here. In this case it does seems as though an ordinary week of seven days is not intended. Most commentators will agree that a short period of 70 times 7 equaling 490 days is not intended. Even making it 490 years cannot be intended. Most likely, “Seventy Sevens” ought to be seen in a collective manner … “a period of sevens, even seventy of them as is decreed” as a commentator paraphrases … the “Seventy Sevens” are to be regarded as a unit’.
(2) God decrees this period and He does so for redemptive purposes. So, taking “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed” would mean a period of Seventy Sevens has been decreed for accomplishing the salvation of these people.
(3) Notice that this salvific period relates to Daniel’s people and the Holy City. That is, it firstly refers to Israel in the flesh and the Holy City, the historical Jerusalem … but secondly, because of the Messianic Work described here, it includes the true people of God because they are the ones who fall into the benefits described here.
(4) Although the blessings of verse 24 will continue for longer, the “Seventy Sevens” as a period is allocated for the specific purpose of “to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” Before the period “Seventy Sevens” is exhausted, the six things will be accomplished. There are three negatives and three positives. The negatives are …
(a) To finish transgression;
(b) to put an end to sin;
(c) to atone for wickedness; with the positives being …
(d) to bring in everlasting righteousness;
(e) to seal up vision and prophecy and
(f) to anoint the most holy.
Let’s work through these negatives and positives.
(1) To finish transgression. To this point, Israel’s sin had been laid naked before a righteous God. Within the transgressions there is also apostasy and rebellion, not just by the Israel in exile, but in general, transgression includes these two sins. “To finish” actually means to “shut up”. Only God can shut up and shut away sin before His eyes, and this He does through Jesus Christ’s atoning death. Jesus is the Great Deliverer. This shutting up points to the New Dispensation that Messiah (Jesus) would introduce. So again … “your people” points directly to those saved by grace through faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, where His Blood shut up or away the sin before the eyes of Father God.
(2) To put an end to sin. Although once saved by the Lord Jesus, we remain sinners on this earth. The process of holiness making implies we ought to be sinning less … gaining victory over sin more and more … conforming more and more to the likeness of the Lord Jesus … does not mean we will be sinless upon planet earth. But once we die in the flesh and are transported into glory … sin will be no more … sin will end. Sin will cease and be no more for us!
(3) To atone for wickedness. The though here is a “propitiatory sacrifice” offered, our sin is expiated, sin pardoned and we are reconciled to God.
1Jn 2:1 if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins.(ESV)
Expiate: Blotting out sin and redeeming the person.
Pardoned: Forgiven of one’s sin which ultimately against God.
Reconciled: No longer God’s enemy.
Now there is a healthy relationship with no sin barrier to spiritual intimacy. As you can easily see, these negatives are fulfilled in Jesus’ penal substitutionary death.
Thank You, Lord, that we have been included to enjoy the merits of the Lord Jesus’ work at Calvary. Help us to live a life of joyful thanksgiving. Amen.