‘Only acknowledge your iniquity,
That you have transgressed against the LORD your God
And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree,
And you have not obeyed My voice,’ declares the LORD.
‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the LORD;
‘For I am a master to you,
And I will take you one from a city and two from a family,
And I will bring you to Zion.’
“Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.
“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.
“At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart.
“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. (Jeremiah 3:13-18)
Confession is good for the soul. It is also the only way that repentance can happen, since you can only repent if you know what you’ve done wrong. Children learn to say “sorry” if they fear they will get in trouble. But that kind of “sorry” is only an empty word tossed like a charm to ward off pain. Only when the child can acknowledge what he or she has done, is there real confession and real repentance. A genuinely repentant heart offers up no excuses, balks at no punishment, complains about no restitution.
Someday, God says, that will happen to his people. Therefore, knowing that future, he assures them that they will, after all is said and done, come back to him and he will restore them to their land. Though much will be different then, they will not miss what used to be.
Though in the time of Jeremiah, people spoke of the ark of the covenant as if it were magic, the time would come when it would be gone for good and no one would care. Obsession about sacred objects and places is misguided. What matters are people, because people are the true sacred objects of God (John 4:21-24).