What does this mean: “The Temple of the Lord! The Temple of the Lord! The Temple of the Lord!”? Israel, the northern kingdom of Hebrews, had been destroyed, but the Assyrian army was not able to approach Jerusalem because the Lord defended it with a miracle. So the people had begun to think that it did not matter whether they sinned. If God was unwilling to let Jerusalem be conquered because he loved his temple so much, the Jews had nothing to be afraid of, no matter what they did. God would never follow through on a punishment because of this technicality.
God is letting them know that he is perfectly willing to destroy his temple. The Jews are his people, but if they do not act with justice and mercy, what is the point? Why would he protect them from the Babylonians if they are just as bad as the Babylonians, or even worse? In retrospect we can see that God never actually gave up on his people. The exile to Babylon was in some ways the beginning of the Jewish religion. It was there that they got serious about worshipping God and reading Scripture.
The plans of God are so complex that we are really hopeless when we try to anticipate them. The best we can hope for is to appreciate his handiwork in retrospect. He allows the wheat and the weeds to grow next to each other. This is not because he is ignorant of proper agricultural techniques. He has plans for that wheat, and it is stronger for having grown up with weeds. The enemy snuck in and planted weeds, but God will make all things work for good.
He let Jerusalem be destroyed and the Jews be taken into exile, but they came back 70 years later with a much stronger and more profound faith which had been lying dormant in them for the past thousand years. When Jesus arrived 500 years later, it was to possibly the most religious culture in the history of the world, a culture ready to hear his message, a culture where a fisherman and a tentmaker were ready to be Apostles to the ends of the earth, above all a culture that prepared a young girl to be sinless and accepting of the vocation of being God’s mother. Salvation is from the Jews, who suffered as a people because God had chosen them for this high calling.