Does Isaiah 64:8 Teach the Universal Fatherhood of God?

QUESTION:

 Does Isaiah 64:8 teach the universal fatherhood of God (the doctrine that God is the Father of all men)? 

ANSWER:

Taken without reference to its context, Isaiah 64:8 would certainly appear to support the teaching of the universal Fatherhood of God toward all men. It is certainly true that all of mankind can be said to be “the work of your hand.”€ However, an examination of the context demonstrates that this is not the intent of Isaiah’s words. The key seems to lie in the application of the pronoun, “€œwe.”€ It is not all of mankind of whom Isaiah speaks in this verse. Rather, the reference is to God’€™s special people, the Israelites. Verse 9 makes it plain that God’€™s Fatherhood referred to in verse 8 is not by virtue of God’s being the Creator of all men. Rather, the request for forgiveness of sins makes it plain that this Fatherhood is spiritual in nature. The people referred to as “we” are those who had lived in the “sacred cities”€ which had become desolate, and whose fathers had praised God in the “€œholy and glorious temple.”€ Clearly, this is not a description of all of mankind, but of Israel.

The Lord is also referred to as Father in Isaiah 63:16, and again, the people to whom He is Father are identified as the physical descendants of Abraham and Israel. In that verse, we read, “€œBut you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us,”€ indicating that God was closer to them than their physical fathers; even though their human parents might deny or abandon them, God would not. He was their Father in a very special way, and He shared this relationship with His chosen people alone. Again, referring back to Isaiah 60:21, we find the phrase, the “€œwork of [God’s] hands”€ applied to, not all of mankind, but to his people who are righteous, and who will “€œpossess the land forever.”€ It seems clear from all these verses that Isaiah intended to refer to God as the Father of righteous ones among His chosen people, Israel, and not of all mankind.