In Matt. 18:21,22 we read:
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
I have heard it told that Peter's 'seven times' was an order of magnitude more than that which some of the religious leaders of his day taught.
So, if I was reading it as a contemporary of Peter I would be stunned by his proposed measure of forgiveness. But, Jesus' words are what stun me as a modern reader.
It is clear to me that He was not talking about a literal count of 70 x 7, so that is not the stunning part. What completely blows my mind is the fact that the only other reference to such a mathematical equation is in Dan. 9:24 where it says:
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Yes, I understand the one is part of a prophecy and the other a statement but this part in the prophecy in Daniel deals primarily with God's forgiveness of sin as revealed by His Son.
It is clear to me that Dan. 9:24-27 refers to the Messiah's coming but what I find more than coincidental is the seventy weeks (70 x 7) used to indicate when this all will happen.
Since seeing this interesting feature about seven odd years ago, I have started seeing Jesus' words to Peter in Matt. 18:22 as simply saying this - forgive as I (God) forgive.
This fits in exactly with the bottom line of the parable Jesus goes on to teach after answering Peter.
The depth of this possible reference of Jesus gets even deeper when you then go look at the 7 x 7 of Leviticus 25. Forgive me for waxing homiletical for a moment but, when properly analysed and then viewed from afar it almost looks like God's requirements of man in Lev. 25 is one tenth of all that He promised in Dan. 9:24.
So what does Matt. 18:21, 22 say? How do we interpret this otherwise 'nonsensical' literal reference to 490 times if it is so clear to us that He was not speaking literally?