The Cry of the Orphaned Heart
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…

It has never died out, and is present still in many a spirit.

I. THE WORDS EXPRESS A DEEP LONGING OF THE HUMAN HEART. With all its folly and frivolity and sin, the heart of man has been made to feel after these words: "Our Father — our Father which art in heaven." The lower creatures have not this cry, because they have not our wants, our aspirations, or the possibility of our hopes. There are wonderful instincts among them — most wonderful often in the most minute. But what curious microscope ever discovered among them a spire pointing heavenward, or tokens of prayer and praise? The magnet which is passed over the earth to draw things upward finds nothing in this world which trembles and turns to it save the human heart. It is very true that many hearts make little viable response, and seem to bear the want of a heavenly Father very lightly. But even in them there may be discerned the heart-hunger that shows itself in unnatural cravings which the lower creatures do not feel. The void may be discovered in the restless attempts men make to fill it. When we look at the length and breadth of man's history, it ,tells us that this cry constantly returns, "O that I knew where I might find Him! There have been men in all ages to whom the answer of this cry has been the one necessity of life, and if you could convince them that is impossible to find a heavenly Father, they would smile no more.

II. YET IT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO SPEAK THESE WORDS WITH FULL ASSURANCE. The struggle to reach them is evident in the men who use them here, and is felt in the very word "doubtless," with which they begin their claim.

1. There is one difficulty, which belongs specially to our time, in the mind of man as it deals with the universe and its laws. There is a form of science which says, "I have ranged the world, and there is nothing in it but material law. There may be a heart in man, but there is no heart beyond to answer it; or, if there be, the heart of man can never reach it."

2. Besides the mind, the heart finds difficulties in itself. There are so many things in life which make it hard to believe in the love of God.

3. And still beyond the mind and heart there is the conscience. When we think of a Father in heaven, we must think of a righteous Father, of One "who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity." The weak, indulgent fatherhood, which is passed so lightly from hand to hand, will not fit into the parts of the world's history which show the terrible penalties of sin; it will not satisfy the soul when it is brought face. to face with the majesty of God's law and the holiness of HIS character.

III. WITH ALL THESE DIFFICULTIES, IT IS A FEELING WHICH CAN BE AND HAS BEEN REACHED. There have been men who could look up and say, "Doubtless Thou art our Father." They have said it not only in sunshine, but in storm and in the shadow of death; have given up their lives that they might testify to it clearly and fearlessly; and have shut the door and said it to their Father who seeth in secret. But we are to, think of One, the greatest of all. Even those who take the lowest view of Jesus Christ will admit that He, beyond all others, taught men to think of God as a Father, and gave the example of it in His own life and death. How strong it made Him, and how patient, how active in doing good, how comforted in solitude, that His Father had sent Him, and was present with Him, putting the cup of suffering into His hand, and ready to receive Him when He said, Father, into Thy hands commend My spirit!" But His example, His influence, wonderful as they are, would not enable us to follow Him to God as a Father, unless there was something in His death which laid hold of us with stronger power. It is this which enables us to go to God the Judge of all with confidence, because we go through the blood of sprinkling. And when the conscience can say, My Father; the heart beans to say it also. When the heart has found a Father in God, all the world's laws cannot lay hand on it to imprison it; it moves "through the midst of them, and so passes by."

IV. THIS FULL SENSE OF GOD'S FATHERHOOD IS NOT GENERALLY GAINED AT ONCE. We do not say that the position is not gained at once. As soon as any one comes to God through Christ, he is no more a stranger and an enemy, but a child, and all the, dealings of God with him are paternal. But he may fail to recognize a Father's voice and hand. Think of the ways by which it may be gained. Come, first of all, by a more simple and loving faith to the death of Christ in the fulness of its meaning. Then seek more fully to give Christ entrance into your heart and life. As the-heart is purified we see God. To have God for our Father is not merely to be forgiven, it is not even to be sanctified; it is to be one with Him in thought and feeling, to listen to Him and speak with Him, as one speaks with a friend. It is peculiarly the work of the Holy Spirit to lead us into this inmost sanctuary of sonship. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." But to be led by Him, we must not grieve Him by sin or neglect, but welcome His whispered admonitions; and then, as we listen and obey, we shall reach the innermost room where "the Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."

V. TO USE THESE WORDS TRULY IS A MATTER OF INFINITE MOMENT TO US ALL. Here is a Friend we need in every stage of life, and in every event of it.

(J. Ker, D. D.)

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

WEB: For you are our Father, though Abraham doesn't know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us: you, Yahweh, are our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is your name.

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