The Book of Daniel, from which one of today’s readings is taken, has fascinated me since childhood Sunday School days, because it is filled with vivid imagery. Of course there are the stories of the lion’s den, the writing on the wall, the fiery furnace, the interpretation of the king’s dreams and beasts galore. Today’s passage is certainly appropriate for Lent, as it presents Daniel deep in prayer, asking the Lord to grant forgiveness and mercy to his people. Suddenly, the angel Gabriel appears to Daniel to give him “wisdom and understanding.” While angels may not visit us during our Lenten devotions, I think the passage does show us that God answers prayer if we are faithful in our prayer life, as Daniel was.
The end of the passage has a detailed “Prophecy of Seventy Weeks,” at times interpreted to be 490 years, with a day representing a year. I found several commentaries which tied the events that Gabriel describes to specific historical events, including the destruction of the temple, the coming of Christ (the “anointed prince”), the crucifixion and the “end times.” Some of these had quite detailed math reconciling the weeks/years to the actual time of the events. While quite interesting, I prefer for now to focus on the message that God speaks to us as we pray, and thus our prayers are never in vain.