“I want to confess my sins” she said.
“To whom do you want to confess them?” I asked
“I don’t do that kind of thing, besides, it would not be very effective because you have not offended me or been unrighteous toward me.”
“Oh” she said “ I thought you could pray for my forgiveness if I confessed”
“No, you need to confess to the one you’ve offended.”
“OK, I get it; well then, to God”
“Do you have a particular God in mind?” I asked
She said “I thought there was only one.” (Deuteronomy 4:35)
“I agree,” I said “and do you know His name?”
“He says his name is Yhwh.” (Exodus 3:15)
“Then I want to confess my sins to Yhwh.”
“I’m guessing that you have not lived a life in which you have ‘bowed down & served Him’. Am I right about that?”
“Ummm, I guess you’re right about that; yes.”
“Would you like to go further into this, then?” At this point she hesitated. And I urged her to take a moment. I wanted her and her companion to feel it was OK to consider the matter seriously.
Then when each of us has a cup of tea from the tray I had just brought back from the kitchen, the young man reaches forward, takes her hand and gently squeezes.
She spoke quietly at first but as she continued her voice strengthened. It was clear that she had found a determination within herself and wanted to go on.
“Alright,” I said, glancing at both of them while looking directly into their eyes, I wanted confirmation and they both nodded. Turning to her I began…
“You said, earlier that you want to confess your sins. Yes?” Again the firm nod”
“Well I have some good news and some bad news.” She looked surprised.
“The bad news is that you currently stand condemned  before Yhwh because you are outside the community of the Commonwealth of Isra’el, or more simply, not one of God’s in-crowd.” since anxiety is forming on her face, I press on quickly.
“You could sin (in your terms) a lot or a little, do awful things or trivial, even have lived an unimpeachable life. In a sense, God only shrugs his shoulders because you are not one of His and beyond this material world there is no future for you. In a sense you have committed only one sin in the eyes of the God Yhwh, you have not yet recognised Him as the One true God.”
She interrupts: “But I want to, I do want to and I want to live a life that speaks well of Him and us.” she squeezes her companion’s hand firmly. She is not excessively emotional but it seems that her resolution grows.
So I say: “Then the good news is this,” the strain on her face eases, “You are invited to come in.” (Luke14: 7-24). More surprise and a sense that she expected it would be difficult or more complicated. Going on then “Here’s the position: It was always part of the plan of Yhwh that those outside the Chosen People, the ones called gentiles, should be welcome to come into the Community of the Commonwealth of Isra’el (Eph 2:11-22). So, if you accept the invitation (Luke14: 7-24) and come in, you become what Paul calls a ‘wild olive branch’ grafted in among the others.”(Romans 11).
”This access is made safe for you because Yhwh sent Ye’shua (Jesus) to atone for Isra’el (Hebrews 8-10) and having done so, it became safe for you to come in. The covenant and the commandments do not have to be satisfied by you before you can come in. And once inside, once among the Chosen People because of that grafting in I mentioned, you too are in the Isra’el that Ye’shua has atoned for already. I do not mean to say that you have become a Jew, they are the branch that was not already torn out. You are, like the Jew, also now inside Isra’el. Do you understand what I am saying?”
“Yes,” she says. “I think it’s like this: I leave everything at the entrance and accepting the invitation, I come in safely because I am not judged by the covenant or the commandments. Jesus fixed all that so that in coming in, even having been a sinner in the sense of having ignored Yhwh, I am now one of the Chosen People too. I have now a new life in which I bow down and serve Yhwh, the only God, The One True God. The Most High God of Isra’el. From now on it does matter how I live. Oh yes: the Jews who follow Yhwh and we grafted in Gentiles, are both part of the one tree together, one new humanity in place of two.”(Eph 2:15)
This time I nod to her, there’s a smile on all our faces.
She turns to the young man and says:
“Hear O Isra’el,
Yhwh our God Yhwh is One
You shall love Yhwh your God
With all your heart and
With all your soul
With all your mind and
With all your strength” (Mk 12:30)
We all stand and embrace each other. A new life begins, and probably more than one, I think, I hope.
“Thank you” she says. “May I come back next week?”
“This time next week? Both of you?” Nods all round.
“See you next week then. We’ll begin at the beginning. Bring a Bible and we’ll start with Genesis 1. Ok?” Smiles and we all head for the door.
1 Since she already agrees that there is only one God I decided not to explore the many other religions with her.
2 This is from the first part of the Ten Commandments, the other way round, ie you must not bow down & serve other Gods.
3 Romans 8:1 says: “there is no condemnation for those who are in Messiah” (Halelu’ya) and the opposite also applies. Ephesians 2:11&12 says: Remember that you gentiles by birth… remember that at that time you were without the Messiah, being aliens from the Commonwealth of Isra’el, strangers to the Covenants of promise having no hope and without God in the World. The young lady is therefore an outsider who has no part in the plans of God until she becomes an insider.
4 Invite occurs at least 12 times in these few verses. We know he is making an eschatologically related point here because of his remark in verse 14: “and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
5 The Greek of atonement does not seem to be present but the description in these three chapters seems to be derived from the account of atonement in Leviticus 19.
6 Satisfied by Ye’shua.
7 The unrighteousness of His people does matter to Him supremely to Him; hence the Temple Atonement Sacrifices and the sending of Ye’shua, to offer himself as the final atonement sacrifice. Now in Isra’el we rely on Jesus not a dead animal burning on an altar.