Isaiah 63 15Look down from heaven and see,

from your lofty throne, holy and glorious.

Where are your zeal and your might?

Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us.

16But you are our Father,

though Abraham does not know us

or Israel acknowledge us;

you, Lord, are our Father,


Isa 63:16 is NOT discussing observing ancestors watching events on earth. The force of the verse is the moral corruption of the generation of people to whom Isaiah was prophesying - so bad that Abraham and Jacob would not recognize them.

Ellicott reaches the same conclusion:

(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.

Barnes reaches the same conclusion:

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. ...

And Israel acknowledge us not - And though Jacob, another much honored and venerated patriarch, should refuse to recognize us as his children.

Similarly, the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary also has:

  1. 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).

Gill also has the same idea: (See Eccl 9:5, 6, 10)

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:

Note the further insights of the Pulpit commentary:

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.

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