This week, Nehemiah brings some prophetic fire to his governorship of Jerusalem, as he literally lays down The Law on the ruling class. Hope for a better future infuses all three passages for this Sunday, via lament (in Joel) and peace (in 1 Thessalonians).

Read transcript

The kind of hope these scriptures describe is one that requires action to realise. The writers naturally identify God as the source of hope - from whom flows justice, deliverance, and peace - but they also have expectations of God's people. It's not a sit-back-and-wait-for-blessings-to-shower-down-on-us kind of hope!

In the outro this week I can be heard paraphrasing Walter Brueggemann, who gave a fantastic interview on the Can I Say This At Church podcast a couple of weeks ago. I shared the episode, with the full quotation, on the four cubits and a span Facebook page last week. Click on this link to the post to read the full quotation, and click through from there to hear the full interview about prophetic narratives in scripture.

On the original release of this episode, my mind wandered for a moment when I referred to the Greek territory of Ionia as "an island", which is funny when you know that 'Iona' is an island off the coast of Scotland, UK. Ionia was of course a region in Asia Minor, west of the Aegean Sea, in present-day Turkey. The Jewish Study Bible notes that it's identified as "Javan" in some Hebrew Bible texts, such as Joel 3:6 (Heb. 4:6). Thanks to an astute friend for pointing out my mistake!

Just out of interest, the Hermeneia commentary on Joel and Amos has this note:
“Javan” (יָוָן) for the Greek—speaking regions of the western world and their inhabitants (cf. “Ionians”) appears in the Old Testament only in exilic and later texts. [Gen 10:2*, 4* (P); 1 Chr 1:5*, 7*; Is 66:19*; Zech 9:13*; Dan 8:21*; 10:20*; 11:2*. On Ezek 27:13*, 19*, see p. 78n 37.]

Join the discussion on Facebook and listen via iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you're enjoying the show, you could even leave a review, and share the podcast on social media!


Achtemeier, Elizabeth (1996). Minor Prophets I, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.
Amazon    Logos    Olive Tree

Comfort, Philip W. (2008). 1 Thessalonians, in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary Vol. 16: Ephesians, Philippians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Philemon. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.
Amazon    Logos    Olive Tree

Davies, Gordon F. (1999). Ezra and Nehemiah, Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
Amazon    Logos

Wolff, Hans Walter (1969); tr. Waldemar Janzen, S. Dean McBride, Jr., Charles A. Muenchow (1977). Joel and Amos: A Commentary on the Books of the Prophets Joel and Amos, Hermeneia — A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.
Amazon    Logos    Olive Tree

Yamauichi, Edwin D. (2009). Ezra and Nehemiah, in Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Vol. 3: 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Amazon    Logos    Olive Tree


episode 12: identity and community (2017/11/19), Joel as apocalyptic literature

OnScript Podcast: David A. Lambert - How Repentance Became Biblical, reviewing a 2016 monograph on repentance in the Bible


Nehemiah 5, Nehemiah 6, Exodus 22, Nehemiah 9, Joel 1, 1 Thessalonians 5, BOEZNEH, ZIBBCOT03, BAKERUBOTMINPRO01, CSTONECM70EPH, HRMNEIA29JLAM