Jeremiah 3:16 — The Lost Ark
It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land, declares the LORD, they will no longer say, The ark of the covenant of the LORD. And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again.
Despite the fact that the Bible and Christianity in general is despised by the world, the legends concerning the Ark of the Covenant still capture the attention of many. To this day legends abound concerning the ark. One legend says that the ark was hidden by Jeremiah under the city of Jerusalem when Babylon invaded the city. Two other legends say that the ark is hidden in a mountain in Africa and in a special, secret building also in Africa. Some rabbis alive today claim to have seen the ark with their own eyes. Hollywood used its imagination to produce a film about a dashing and daring archaeologist who sought for the lost ark and its magical properties. The legends abound because the Ark seems simply to have disappeared quietly into history.
The Bible reveals little about the fate of the ark, but there is a possibility that it was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Regardless of what happened to the ark, one fact is certain. As one studies the last years of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, one is struck with the fact that the people of Israel do not seem to miss the ark. No mention is made of the ark, but the people worshiped as if they did not realize that the presence of God had been removed from them.
The message of Jeremiah 3.16 is very simple. We need no outward symbol of God’s presence because His Holy Spirit resides in our hearts. We may worship God in spirit and in truth.
Jeremiah tells us in our text that there will come a time when Israel will not have the ark of the covenant. The time of which Jeremiah speaks is not a time in his relatively near future; the time of which Jeremiah speaks is the Millennial Kingdom. How do we know this fact? Verse sixteen tells us that the people will be multiplied in the land. After the captivity, and especially after the time of Christ, the Israelites were scattered across the globe. In 1948, the world set aside land for Israel to once again become a political entity, yet Israel is still scattered across the world. There must be a greater return of Israel to the promised land before Jeremiah’s prophecy may be fulfilled. Another indication of Israel’s future return is found in verse eighteen. “In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.” We read that the Northern and Southern Kingdoms will be re-united. Verse seventeen tells us that the nations of the world will gather together at Jerusalem. The gathering is not the meeting of the nations of the world to fight at Armageddon; rather, the meeting is the Gentile nations who accepted the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. Despite the fact that Jerusalem is now the Jewish capital of the world, Jerusalem will be the Lord’s capital during the Millennial Kingdom.
As Christ met the woman at the well, He confronted her with her spiritual thirst. As the two conversed, the woman understood that Christ was no mere man; she understood that the hand of God was upon Him. As the conversation progressed, Christ confronted the woman with her sin. Embarrassed and ashamed of her sin, the woman attempted to distract Christ from her spiritual need. Using theology as a smoke screen, the Samaritan woman asked Christ where true worship should occur. The Samaritans believed that true worship was to occur on Mt. Gerizim (the mount upon which the blessings of keeping the Mosaic covenant were pronounced in Deuteronomy 11). Since Samaritans were considered to be despicable half-breeds by the Jews, the Samaritans considered their worship as more acceptable to God because of its inclusiveness as opposed to the Jews exclusive worship in Jerusalem. The inclusive nature of the Samaritan’s worship allowed idolatry to occur along with worship of Jehovah. The Samaritan’s worship was unacceptable to God because they made the same conclusion about worship as Cain. Cain offered the vegetables because he believed that God’s command of a blood sacrifice was insufficient. Christ brought the woman back to the heart of the issue. John 4:23-24 says, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
What are your thoughts on this verse?
What is worship?
What does it mean to worship in spirit and in truth?
How seriously do you believe God considers worship to be?