The prophet Jeremiah warned the inhabitants of Jerusalem not to trust in lying words by thinking that they could avoid the Judgment of God because the temple was there (Jeremiah 7:1-12). He told them to learn from Shiloh (the place God had originally chosen) and recall what He had done to it because of their sins.
But go ye now unto MY PLACE which was in Shiloh, where I SET MY NAME at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel (Jeremiah 7:12).
Shiloh was the place where the tabernacle was set up after the children of Israel entered the land of Canaan under the ministry of Joshua. Before the children of Israel crossed the Jordan, God told them the following through Moses.
These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do IN THE LAND, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God. BUT UNTO THE PLACE WHICH THE LORD YOU GOD SHALL CHOSE out of all your tribes TO PUT HIS NAME THERE, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come…(Deuteronomy 12:1-5).
Israel was to completely destroy every place which was dedicated to other gods. God expressly tells them to destroy these “upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree.” Israel was to be a holy people consecrated to the worship of the One True God, and they were to worship God at the place where he would chose to place His name.
But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; Then there shall be A PLACE WHICH THE LORD YOUR GOD SHALL CHOOSE TO CAUSE HIS NAME TO DWELL THERE; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord: And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: BUT THE PLACE WHICH THE LORD SHALL CHOOSE in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee (Deuteronomy 5:10-14).
After Israel entered into the promised land, God chose Shiloh as the place where the tabernacle, which bore His name, would be placed.
During the days of the High Priest, Eli, and his two sons Hophni, and Phinehas, who were priests with him, Israel was in a state of apostasy.
1 Samuel 2:13 tells us, “the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.”
Belial means “lawless, wrecklessness, worthless.” Literally, it means devil. In Deuteronomy 13, we see the use of this term “Belial” in the following context.
If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, THE CHILDREN OF BELIAL, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, LET US GO AND SERVE OTHER gods, which ye have not known; Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword (Deuteronomy 13:12-15).
Eli’s sons were wicked men like these mentioned in Deuteronomy 13, being sons of Belial. They were so wicked that they stole the portion which belonged to the Lord from the sacrifices which the people brought to the altar. In 1 Samuel 2:12-17 we read the following from the NLT.
Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests. Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork. While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way. Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting. The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.”So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for THEY TREATED THE LORD’S OFFERING WITH CONTEMPT.
The sacrifices which were to be offered to God, according to the law, were sacrifices which were suppose to foreshadow the sacrifice of Jesus. Yet, these wicked priests handled the offerings of the Lord with contempt.
Furthermore, Hophni and Phinehas, were immoral and were seducing women at the tabernacle.
Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were SEDUCING THE YOUNG WOMEN who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. If someone sins against another person, God can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death (1 Samuel 2:22-25).
This was “Shiloh” of which God was warning the inhabitants of Jerusalem in Jeremiah 7. Now consider Jeremiah 7:1-15 in view of Shiloh. We will read from the NLT.
The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go to the entrance of the Lord’s Temple, and give this message to the people: ‘O Judah, listen to this message from the Lord! Listen to it, all of you who worship here! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:“‘Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, “The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!” But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever. “‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, and then come here and stand before me in My Temple and chant, “We are safe!”— only to go right back to all those evils again? Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken! “‘GO NOW TO THE PLACE AT SHILOH where I once put the Tabernacle that bore my name. See what I did there because of all the wickedness of my people, the Israelites. While you were doing these wicked things, says the Lord, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer. SO JUST AS I DESTROYED SHILOH, I WILL NOW DESTROY THIS TEMPLE THAT BEARS MY NAME, this Temple that you trust in for help, this place that I gave to you and your ancestors. AND I WILL SEND YOU OUT OF MY SIGHT INTO EXILE, just as I did your relatives, the people of Israel.’
God’s warning, through Jeremiah, to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem was that they not trust in lying words, thinking that God would not destroy the temple. God was calling them to repentance, but they refused, and would soon be exiled just as God had promised.
Now consider Jeremiah 26:1-9.
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the Lord, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings. And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; THEN WILL I MAKE THIS HOUSE LIKE SHILOH, AND WILL MAKE THIS CITY A CURSE TO ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH.
God kept his word and in the days of King Zedekiah, Jerusalem was besieged and the temple destroyed.
Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years IN JERUSALEM. And his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And HE DID THAT WHICH WAS EVILE IN THE EYES OF THE LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For through the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, till he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about. So THE CITY WAS BESIEGED unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then THE CITY WAS BROKEN UP, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden; (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about:) and they went by the way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him. And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah. Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death. Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, And BURNED THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire: And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about. then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive certain of the poor of the people, and the residue of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude (Jeremiah 52:1-15).
God’s judgment came because the people would not repent and serve the Lord. Seventy years would pass before the captivity would end, and the remnant would return to rebuild the city and the temple.
When God destroyed the tabernacle in Shiloh, the Ark of God (the Ark of the Covenant) left the tabernacle and never returned to it. In fact when Eli heard that the Ark had been taken by the Philistines, the Bible says, “he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died…(1 Samuel 4:18).
We then read the following.
And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, THE GLORY IS DEPARTED FROM ISRAEL: BECAUSE THE ARK OF GOD WAS TAKEN, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, THE GLORY IS DEPARTED FROM ISRAEL: FOR THE ARK OF GOD IS TAKEN.
During the reign of King David, the Ark was recovered, but it was not taken to the tabernacle. Instead, It was placed in a tent which David made for it. Later, when Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, the Ark of God was placed there. God had placed His name there and sanctified the temple as His House of worship.
It was this temple, built by Solomon, which was destroyed by the Babylonians during the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy. Though a second temple was built after the Jewish exiles returned from Babylon, the Ark of God never returned to the rebuilt temple.
From the time of the exile until the arrival of John the Baptist, the Ark of God’s presence was not in the temple in Jerusalem.