The God of No Answer
That Blazing Furnace (11:1–17)
11:3–4 Cursed be anyone who does not heed the words
of this covenant, which I commanded on the day I
brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, out
of the blazing furnace.
11:1–12. “Out of the blazing furnace… ” A startling, typically Jeremian surprise. The image is an effortless (or so it seems) effusion of a great poet. It is linked, as though a mere afterthought, to the timeworn formula: “On the day I brought your ancestors out… ” No difficulty with “the law” as such! His passion is rather to vindicate a religion of heart and hands, a faith dramatized in works of compassion and justice.
11:13–14. The delicts, the gods and their shrines, “are as many as your cities, O Judah,… and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are… your altars to burn incense to Baal.”
The conclusion is ironic—scarcely to be thought irenic! It is addressed to Jeremiah; we have heard it before: “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or a prayer for them. I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster.” As before, the passage invites, challenges us: dare to deconstruct the instruction. So doing, we