I have a question for you. In the book of Ezra there are several decrees to rebuild Jerusalem. You count 490 years from Ezra 7, why not Ezra 1?[Editor’s Note: This is significant because in my book Daniel, Prophet to the Nations, I use Artaxerxe’s decree of 458 BC, combined with the 490 years (seventy sevens) to show that God, through Daniel, prophesied that the Messiah would come to Jerusalem to die and make atonement for sins in AD 30, plus or minus three years. The questioner is wondering if this date was chosen, not because it fit the description in Daniel 9:25, but perhaps simply because it works better with the date of the crucifixion.]
Ezra 1 is a decree to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:2-3), but not the walls of the city, so it is not a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem itself. This is specified in the decree. Besides, the result of this decree was only the building of the temple, and we know from Nehemiah that the city was not rebuilt at that time, but only much later, after Artaxerxe’s decree in Ezra 7. Therefore, the prophecy in Daniel 9 concerns a decree which had not yet been written when Daniel was alive, but 490 years before Jesus was killed in Jerusalem.