Bare in mind where we are. Israel, to the north, was transported into exile by the Assyrians one hundred years previous. Judah has not learnt this lesson, described in the first section of the book as like a camel on heat, willing to get into bed with any false god it can find. 3:4-4:4 serve as a reminder/warning to Judah, and a forecast from the Lord about the time when Israel repents. The middle section, which refer to the Ark, are some of the most gloriously hopeful verses in the book.
Jeremiah 3:16 says: And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, declares the LORD, they shall no more say, "The ark of the covenant of the LORD." It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again.
Is that not a bit weird? Isn't the only hope for the remnant in Judah, or the returners from the north the temple worship around the Ark? Isn't the problem that too many people have forgotten the Ark? That it is not being remembered or missed? When Ezekiel reports this turn of events it is horrible news, so why are these verse of hope? The key must be in the first few words... 'when you have multiplied and increased in the land'. When you return, but not just when you return, when the nations return (v17). This verse goes far, far, millions of years beyond Jeremiah's time.
When will finally the lack of an Ark be good news? Verse 17 gives us a clue 'at that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD'. When will Jerusalem be the meeting place of God and man? When will Our God finally dwell with His people? Revelation 21 and 22. There the city has no need of son or moon for the glory of the Lamb is the lamp. They city is a cube, but have you ever seen a cubed city? As long as it is wide as it is high? Of course not. But the cube of the Old Testament is the holy of holies. Behind the veil where priests fear to tread but once a year. In that final and great city, we will always be behind the veil, in the cube, in unobstructed ecstasy with Jesus.
But what about now? Well, 'tear down this temple and in three days i'll rebuild it.' No wonder Jesus' disciples didn't have a clue what He meant when He said that. But here and now for us, Jesus is our Temple, Jesus is our meeting place, Jesus is where we flee, His blood shed for us, He the Passover Lamb. And now Jeremiah's words make sense. Who wants an ark when you can have Jesus. Why settle for the shadow when you can have the substance.