Jeremiah 32:31—Did God delight in Zion (Jerusalem) or did it provoke His anger?

Problem: The psalmist declared that “the Lord loves the gates of Zion.” (Ps. 87:2). In fact, “the Lord has chosen Zion ... [as] My resting place forever” (Ps. 132:13–14). But, in this text, Jeremiah quotes God as saying, “This city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My fury from the day that they built it, even to this day.” Well, then, does God delight in Zion forever, or has He been provoked by it from the beginning?

Solution: Actually both are true, whether taken in a spiritual sense or in a literal sense. Some scholars take this spiritually, as a reference to God’s eternal blessing on His heavenly Zion, the church (cf. Heb. 12:22; Rev. 21–22).

Other Bible scholars understand this literally as yet to be fulfilled when Israel is restored to their land forever as God promised (see comments on Rom. 11:26). Accordingly, the city of Jerusalem which was chosen by God as the capital of His people Israel was a perpetual pain to God. But, when the Messiah returns to set up His throne and reign there (cf. Zech. 13–14; Matt. 19:28), it will be a source of endless delight to God.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.