Isaiah 63:16
Doubtless you are our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: you, O LORD, are our father, our redeemer; your name is from everlasting.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham . . .—Better, For Abraham is ignorant of us. The passage is striking as being an anticipation of the New Testament thought, that the Fatherhood of, God rests on something else than hereditary descent, and extends not to a single nation only, but to all mankind. Abraham might disclaim his degenerate descendants, but Jehovah would still recognise them. Implicitly, at least, the words contain the truth that “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:9). He is still their Redeemer. The words may possibly imply the thought that, as in the case of Jeremiah (2 Maccabees 15:13-14), and Rachel (Jeremiah 31:15), Abraham was thought of as watching over his posterity, and interceding for them. So, eventually, Abraham appears in the popular belief of Israel, as welcoming his children in the unseen world (Luke 16:22).

63:15-19 They beseech him to look down on the abject condition of their once-favoured nation. Would it not be glorious to his name to remove the veil from their hearts, to return to the tribes of his inheritance? The Babylonish captivity, and the after-deliverance of the Jews, were shadows of the events here foretold. The Lord looks down upon us in tenderness and mercy. Spiritual judgments are more to be dreaded than any other calamities; and we should most carefully avoid those sins which justly provoke the Lord to leave men to themselves and to their deceiver. Our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name; thy people have always looked upon thee as the God to whom they might appeal. The Lord will hear the prayers of those who belong to him, and deliver them from those not called by his name.Doubtless - Hebrew, כי kı̂y - 'For;' verily; surely. It implies the utmost confidence that he still retained the feelings of a tender father.

Thou art our father - Notwithstanding appearances to the contrary, and though we should be disowned by all others, we will still believe that thou dost sustain the relation of a father. Though they saw no human aid, yet their confidence was unwavering that he had still tender compassion toward them.

Though Abraham be ignorant of us - Abraham was the father of the nations - their pious and much venerated ancestor. His memory they cherished with the deepest affection, and him they venerated as the illustrious patriarch whose name all were accustomed to speak with reverence. The idea here is, that though even such a man - one so holy, and so much venerated and loved - should refuse to own them as his children, yet that God would not forget his paternal relation to them. A similar expression of his unwavering love occurs in Isaiah 49:15 : 'Can a woman forget her sucking child?' See the note at that place. The language here expresses the unwavering conviction of the pious, that God's love for his people would never change; that it would live when even the most tender earthly ties are broken, and when calamities so thicken around us that we seem to be forsaken by God; and are forsaken by our sunshine friends, and even by our most tender earthly connections.

And Israel acknowledge us not - And though Jacob, another much honored and venerated patriarch, should refuse to recognize us as his children. The Jewish expositors say, that the reason why Abraham and Jacob are mentioned here and Isaac omitted, is, that Abraham was the first of the patriarchs, and that all the posterity of Jacob was admitted to the privileges of the covenant, which was not true of Isaac. The sentiment here is, that we should have unwavering confidence in God. We should confide in him though all earthly friends refuse to own us, and cast out our names as evil. Though father and mother and kindred refuse to acknowledge us, yet we should believe that God is our unchanging friend; and it is of more value to have such a friend than to have the most honored earthly ancestry and the affections of the nearest earthly relatives. How often have the people of God been called to experience this! How many times in the midst of persecution; when forsaken by father and mother; when given up to a cruel death on account of their attachment to the Redeemer, have they had occasion to recoil this beautiful sentiment, and how unfailingly have they found it to be true! Forsaken and despised; cast out and rejected; abandoned apparently by God and by people, they have yet found, in the arms of their heavenly Father, a consolation which this world could not destroy, and have experienced his tender compassions attending them even down to the grave.

Our Redeemer - Margin, 'Our Redeemer, from everlasting is thy name.' The Hebrew will bear either construction. Lowth renders it, very loosely, in accordance with the reading of one ancient manuscript, 'O deliver us for the sake of thy name.' Probably the idea is that which results from a deeply affecting and tender view of God as the Redeemer of his people. The heart, overflowing with emotion, meditates upon the eternal honors of his name, and is disposed to ascribe to him everlasting praise.

16. thou … father—of Israel, by right not merely of creation, but also of electing adoption (Isa 64:8; De 32:6; 1Ch 29:10).

though Abraham … Israel—It had been the besetting temptation of the Jews to rest on the mere privilege of their descent from faithful Abraham and Jacob (Mt 3:9; Joh 8:39; 4:12); now at last they renounce this, to trust in God alone as their Father, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary. Even though Abraham, our earthly father, on whom we have prided ourselves, disown us, Thou wilt not (Isa 49:15; Ps 27:10). Isaac is not mentioned, because not all his posterity was admitted to the covenant, whereas all Jacob's was; Abraham is specified because he was the first father of the Jewish race.

everlasting—an argument why He should help them, namely, because of His everlasting immutability.

Doubtless thou art our Father: thus they urge God with that relation he stands in unto them, Malachi 2:10; therefore we as thy children expect the bowels and compassions of a father.

Though Abraham, he who was our father after the flesh, though he be dead, and so ignorant of our condition.

And Israel; or, Jacob; who was also our father; and therefore a vain thing to call upon them; or if they were not dead, they could not help us out of our straits; or if they were alive, we are so much degenerate that they would not own us. Some say Abraham and Israel are here mentioned, and not Isaac,

1. Because the covenant was made more solemnly, and the promises more frequently renewed, with them, than with Isaac.

2. Because with Abraham the covenant was first made, and the whole seed of Israel was taken into it; but not so of Isaac. Or else,

3. Abraham and Israel being named Isaac is included.

Thou art our Father, our Redeemer: this is urged as another argument for pity, and the more because their Father was their Redeemer, Deu 32:6.

Thy name is from everlasting; or, Redeemer is thy name from everlasting; thou hast been our Redeemer of old. Doubtless thou art our father,.... Therefore why shouldst thou restrain thy mercies and bowels of compassion from us? or therefore look down upon us, and behold us; the church pleads her relation to God, and in a strong manner; faith of interest continued with her, though he hid his face from her. This relation of father and children, which subsists between God and his people, is not upon the foot of creation, so he is a father to all men; nor on account of national adoption, so he was to the whole body of the Jewish people; but through special adopting grace, which is a sovereign act of his will, founded in divine predestination; is a blessing of the covenant of grace; comes to men through Christ, through relation to him, and redemption by him, and is made manifest in regeneration; and a loving tender hearted father he is to his children, who sympathizes with them, provides all things for them, food and raiment, and bestows them on them, and lays up for them, for time to come, even an inheritance rescued in heaven; and though there are sometimes doubts in the minds of the children of God about this relation, through the temptations of Satan, by reason of their sins and corruptions, and because of their afflictions; yet those doubts are wholly removed through the testimony of the spirit of adoption, witnessing to their spirits that they are the children of God, when they can in the strength of faith claim their interest, and call him their Father:

though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not; those, who were their ancestors, were both dead; and the dead know not any thing of their posterity, and of their case and circumstances in this world, temporal or spiritual; nor are capable of giving them any help or aid in time of distress; and perhaps the prophet, in the name of the church, purposely expresses himself in this language, knowing what confidence the Jews were apt to place in Abraham and Israel, to draw off their minds from them, and to lead them to look to God as their only Father; who only could help them in their time of affliction, and was infinitely more to them than any earthly father could possibly be. Some think the sense is, that they confess they were become so degenerate, that if Abraham and Jacob were to return from the dead, they would not know them to be their seed and offspring; and yet, notwithstanding this, God was their Father. This may be the language of some persons, who have comfortable views of their relation to God, when earthly parents, and even professors of religion, disown and slight them:

thou, O Lord; art our father; which is repeated for the confirmation of it, and to express their full assurance of faith in it the more strongly:

our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting; or, "our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name" (e); more agreeably to the accents: Christ was appointed from everlasting to be the Redeemer of his people; God was so early in him, drawing the scheme of redemption and salvation, and made so early a covenant with him concerning it; which may be properly enough called the covenant of redemption, though not as distinct from the covenant of grace; and Christ was the Redeemer of his people in all ages, and lived as such, as well as God the Father was, of old, in all ages, the protector of his people, and the avenger of their wrongs, to whom they might at all times apply for help.

(e) "redemptor noster a seculo nomen tuum", V. L. "vel est", Vitringa; "assertor noster a seculo est nomen tuum", Cocceius.

Doubtless thou art our father, though {s} Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.

(s) Though Abraham would refuse us to be his children, yet you will not refuse to be our father.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. The verse reads: For thou art our Father; for Abraham knoweth us not and Israel doth not recognise us; Thou Jehovah art our Father; our Redeemer from of old is Thy Name. Jehovah is the Father of Israel, i.e. the Creator and founder of the nation (Deuteronomy 32:6; Malachi 2:10; cf. Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1; Isaiah 1:2; Jeremiah 3:4; Jeremiah 3:19; Malachi 1:6). The idea of the divine Fatherhood is not yet extended in the O.T. to the individual believer, although a remarkable anticipation of the N.T. doctrine is found in Sir 23:1; Sir 23:4 : “O Lord, Father and Master of my life, … O Lord, Father and God of my life.” (Cheyne.)Verse 16. - Doubtless thou art our Father; rather, for thou art our Father. This is the ground of their appeal to God. As their Father, he must love them, and must be ready to listen to them. Abraham and Isaac, their earthly fathers, were of no service, lent them no aid, seemed to have ceased to feel any interest in them. It cannot be justly argued from this that the Jews looked to Abraham and Isaac as actual "patron saints," or directed towards them their religious regards. Had this been so, there would have been abundant evidence of it. Thou, O Lord, art our Father (comp. Isaiah 64:8; and see also Deuteronomy 32:6, and Jeremiah 3:4). Though the relationship was revealed under the old covenant, it was practically realized only upon the rarest occasions. Our Redeemer; thy name, etc.; rather, our Redeemer has been thy name from of old. "Redeemer" first appears as a name of God in Job (Job 19:25) and in the Psalms (Psalm 19:14; Psalm 78:35). It is an epitheton usitatum only in the later portion of Isaiah. There it occurs thirteen times. Israel's ingratitude. "But they resisted and vexed His Holy Spirit: then He turned to be their enemy; He made war upon them." Not only has ועצּבוּ (to cause cutting pain) קדשׁו את־רוּח as its object, but מרוּ has the same (on the primary meaning, see at Isaiah 3:8). In other cases, the object of merōth (hamrōth) is Jehovah, or His word, His promise, His providence, hence Jehovah himself in the revelations of His nature in word and deed; here it is the spirit of holiness, which is distinguished from Him as a personal existence. For just as the angel who is His face, i.e., the representation of His nature, is designated as a person both by His name and also by the redeeming activity ascribed to Him; so also is the Spirit of holiness, by the fact that He can be grieved, and therefore can feel grief (compare Ephesians 4:30, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God"). Hence Jehovah, and the angel of His face, and the Spirit of His holiness, are distinguished as three persons, but so that the two latter derive their existence from the first, which is the absolute ground of the Deity, and of everything that is divine. Now, if we consider that the angel of Jehovah was indeed an angel, but that he was the angelic anticipation of the appearance of God the Mediator "in the flesh," and served to foreshadow Him "who, as the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15), as "the reflection of His glory and the stamp of His nature" (Hebrews 1:3), is not merely a temporary medium of self-manifestation, but the perfect personal self-manifestation of the divine pânı̄m, we have here an unmistakeable indication of the mystery of the triune nature of God the One, which was revealed in history in the New Testament work of redemption. The subject to ויּהפך is Jehovah, whose Holy Spirit they troubled. He who proved Himself to be their Father (cf., Deuteronomy 32:6), became, through the reaction of His holiness, the very reverse of what He wished to be. He turned to be their enemy; הוּא, He, the most fearful of all foes, made war against them. This is the way in which we explain Isaiah 63:10, although with this explanation it would have to be accentuated differently, viz., ויהפך mahpach, להם pashta, לאויב zakeph, הוא tiphchah, נלחם־בם silluk. The accentuation as we find it takes נלחם־בם הוא as an attributive clause: "to an enemy, who made war against them."
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