Heartless: Wonderland As You’ve Never Seen It Before

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer

My Rating: Four And a Half Stars

Age Suggestion: 14+

The Book

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

My Thoughts

I absolutely LOVED this book!! I know some people have mixed feelings on it, and maybe it’s not quite as good as the Lunar Chronicles (which were just…beyond five stars and into the galaxy), but I loved it nonetheless.

I’ve read some reviews where people were upset about how the whole plot is basically Cath trying to avoid marrying the king. I get why they might not like that, but here’s the thing: not every book has to feature female heroines a la Katniss Everdeen and Tris, who go out and do karate and fight the evil government and wear leather jackets and intimidate everyone. This is not an action novel – it’s essentially a romance novel. And I get that people might not have been expecting that after the Lunar Chronicles, but this book isn’t the Lunar Chronicles. It’s a different kind of story, and that’s okay.

One reason I think I didn’t mind the slower pace is because I do really enjoy character-driven stories. And the characters in this story were all very interesting, some very frustrating, and they were enough to keep me invested in the story even when there wasn’t a lot of action going on.

To the people who complained that Cath was whiny: I don’t think she was that whiny, honestly, compared to some female characters I’ve read. (Whiny characters are a huge pet peeve of mine, and she didn’t bother me, which is saying something.) She was genuinely in a very tricky situation, too. She’s being forced to marry someone who will never make her happy – just because it’s not life-threatening doesn’t mean it’s not conflict.

Who was my favorite character, you ask? Jest. Of course. He’s honestly one of my favorite love interests I’ve ever read, fun but serious, unique, charming, and…ugh. So good.

The rest of the cast was so interesting too. I loved Margaret and the Duke…that little subplot was really cute and added so much to the story. Hatta was intriguing as well, and the Raven’s quoting was so great!

Honestly, I think my favorite thing about the book is just the way everything came together at the end and created the Queen of Hearts that we are familiar with. It’s hard to explain without spoiling anything, but the way the details are woven together is SO satisfying.

Satisfying, but in a bit of a heartbroken way. Just be warned…it’s not a happy book, which you probably could have guessed from the subject. I finished reading it at lunch at school and thank goodness I was with friends who even vaguely understood what I was feeling…

*Content Warnings*

No language.

The romance, while pretty much clean, is definitely on the more mature side with quite a bit of kissing, which I think would be better for ages 13-14 or so and up (depending on what you’re comfortable with).

There are some pretty intense action scenes, especially near the end, that might disturb younger readers.

 

Overall, I loved this book! I think that, while different from the Lunar Chronicles, it’s another fabulous read by Marissa Meyer that will definitely make it to my list of favorites for the year. Highly recommended if you like Alice in Wonderland, fantasy, or romance!

What do you think? Have you read Heartless? If so, did you like it? If not, will you read it now? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Book Review: The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

Book Review: The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

Why Christians Shouldn’t Have Faith in Humanity

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Classmates shave their heads in solidarity with a sick child.

Someone shares their meal with a homeless man on the street.

A policeman stops to help a little kid tie their shoe.

And the world cries, “Faith in humanity restored!”

Even Christians talk this way without even thinking about it. But I think there’s a problem with Christians using this phrase. Isn’t the fallenness of humanity one of our fundamental beliefs?

Truthfully, we can have no ultimate faith in humanity. 

If our faith is in humanity, our faith is in something that will always ultimately fail us. Back in the Garden of Eden, humanity failed us, in the form of Adam and Eve, and ever since then people have been a mess.

The kid will get bullied. The homeless man will get ignored. The disabled girl will be ridiculed and the bad people will reach the top, no matter how little they deserve it. That one sin back in Genesis started a chain reaction that will continue for the whole history of Earth.

Ultimately people will always fail, and people who put their hope in people will always be disappointed.

But what about all those heartwarming stories, all those people doing genuinely good things? They can’t be discounted completely. They can’t be ignored. If humanity is really in as horrible a state as I’ve described, how do we explain random acts of kindness, acts of service, acts of love?

These things should not restore our faith in humanity. They should restore our faith in God. 

If the Christian looks at the good things in the world and feels restored faith for humanity, they are committing idolatry, putting humans in the place of God. When we look at the good things in the world, our faith in God should be strengthened, increased, heightened.

Because if humanity is really as badly messed up as Christianity believes, the existence of any good at all is proof that God is present, and He is always working.

He is the one prompting people to serve others, changing hearts and changing lives. On our own, humanity can’t get anywhere. We’re stuck in a cycle of anger and fear and hurt and selfishness. But with God, anything is possible. And because of Christ, He can take a broken humanity and bring beautiful things out of it.

So, those “faith in humanity” Pinterest posts and stories on the radio? They should mean so much to the Christian, because we know that the existence of those posts and stories is only because of God’s grace to the world. When we hear them, we should not feel an arrogant faith in the human race. We should feel a humble, grateful faith in God, who is the only source of beauty and goodness, and who can redeem anyone.

Faith in humanity will get us nowhere. Faith in God will.

love, grace

What do you think? Have you ever really thought about this phrase before? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Share in the comments below! 

Read more:

After the Rain: Lessons from a Stormy Day

Why I Don’t Limit Myself to “Christian” Entertainment

Boundaries, Rebellion, and “Living on the Edge”

May 2017 Month in Review

May is always one of the hardest months of the year, at least for me. It’s full of testing (AP tests, SOLs, and the SAT…) and school is winding down, but not quite over yet. Motivating myself to do anything once it feels like summer is so difficult.

But I just keep plugging along, trying to get done what I need to get done and still have some fun along the way, giving myself grace when I’m not quite living up to my own standards. Because those standards aren’t everything, and God loves us no matter how unmotivated we are at the end of the school year.

Bloggings of the Month

old testament pt3what God’s law teaches us about worship

old testament pt4 social justice for the Christian

big ben, bridge, clock tower a special Fun Friday post: the Blue Sky Tag

old testament pt5.jpgpractical tips to get into the Old Testament (the conclusion to the Lessons from the Law series)

Truths of the Month (from my journal)

*there is always always always hope. the Bible promises a day when everything will be so completely right again. (Isaiah 61)

*all the things that happen to us are demonstrations of God’s love, meant to advance the goal of making us more like Christ. (Romans 8:28-30)

*the calling of the Christian is not to do and be good at everything, but to cultivate the specific gifts God has given to us and use them for His glory. (Romans 12)

*the world begs for unity, but the only way to true unity is Christ. the unity God gives us goes far beyond anything the world has. (Romans 15:5-6)

*as Christians, we are called to maturity in spiritual things, but it is okay to be seen as innocent in the world’s eyes. (Romans 16:17-20)

*without God’s love, Christianity would literally not exist. love is the catalyst for everything we believe, and it should be the most important thing in our lives, daily and consciously choosing to love those around us. (1 Corinthians 13)

Favorites of the Month

Image result for heartless Heartless by Marissa Meyer was a very anticipated read for me, and it lived up to expectations! It may have ripped my heart out and stomped on it, but oh well…

Image result for arranged Arranged is a random movie that I had sitting around that I watched on a sick day this month. It’s such a sweet story of a Jewish girl and a Muslim girl who become friends, both of whom are having marriages arranged for them. Perfectly clean, with a cute happy ending. I loved it!

Even though I’m not really thinking seriously about dating and all of that yet, I absolutely loved this talk on singleness from Sam Alberry. First of all, he’s British, which is great. He is so entertaining to listen to, and the talk is full of practical wisdom and amazing insights! Highly recommended.

After Manchester, from Ann Voskamp. No words for how beautiful this is.

I found this video so helpful. Use discernment- Becca isn’t a theologian, and I don’t necessarily agree with her on everything, but a lot of what she has to say in here is really good.

Is the old testament still relevant today? And finally, since we literally just did a series on this, please read Is the Old Testament Still Relevant Today? Some really great points that I didn’t mention!

Upcoming

In June, I have a few standalone posts planned, including a book review and some ideas for making most of this summer. And then, once I get out of school in late June, I’ll have lots more coming, to be announced!

Speaking of summer, I’m trying to decide on a posting schedule for the summer. If you could give me your input, that would be great:

Anyway, I hope you had a great May and are having a great summer/June so far! I’ll be back next week with more summery stuff!

love, grace

How was your May? Did you read or watch anything good? Tell me in the comments below! 

 

Lessons from the Law: How to Get Into the Old Testament for Yourself

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The Old Testament is so important for us to read if we are to grow as Christians. I hope that in this series I’ve convinced you of that with my few examples (sacrificesworshipsocial justice), but there is so much more to learn! That’s why I want to encourage you to get into the Old Testament yourself, to dig deep and seek to understand and appreciate this often-overlooked part of Scripture.

Here are four tips to help you:

1. Pray for guidance and understanding.

Prayer is always a good idea when you read the Bible, since you won’t be able to understand anything without the Holy Spirit’s work in your heart. But it’s especially important when you’re struggling to understand something.

Pray that God would open your eyes to see how the Old Testament, especially the law books, apply to you. Pray that He would teach you through them, teach you about Himself and about the gospel and about the Christian life. Pray that He would help you to understand the parts that you just can’t get through.

2. Don’t read too much at once.

If you read too quickly, skimming through the “boring” parts, you won’t get anything out of it. Don’t try to read more than a chapter or two at a time, and really focus your attention on that chapter or two. The less you read, the more time you have to think about each part of what you read, and being thoughtful as you read the Old Testament is incredibly important.

3. Make notes, journal, or something…don’t just read.

If you’re having trouble being thoughtful, write things down!

My understanding of the Old Testament shifted dramatically when I started reading with pencil in hand. The physical act of making notes and writing down my thoughts got me out of skimming mode and into thinking mode relatively quickly. You can write directly in your Bible (what I do), or use a separate notebook or journal. Whatever you choose to do, writing down the things you are learning will prime your brain to learn even more.

4. Look for application in everything.

And what are you supposed to be thinking about? Applications. Whenever you read the Old Testament, think about how it applies to you. What can you learn about God that will affect how you worship Him? What can you learn about yourself that will affect how you live? How does what you are reading connect with the New Testament, with the gospels? Why did God include this particular chapter in the Bible?

Everything in the Bible is there for a reason, and there is always something you can learn from any section. Read slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully, and search for the purpose of the text. In doing so you will discover the beauty of the Old Testament.

What do you think? How have you been able to find meaning in the Old Testament? Share in the comments below! 

love, grace

Fun Friday: Blue Sky Tag

And now for an installment of “Fun Friday”, where I pop in unexpectedly and give you an extra, random post!

Thank you to Hailey from Now All I Know Is Grace for tagging me for the Blue Sky Tag! Hopefully the questions will help you learn a little more about me and/or encourage you in your faith. Here we go:

Why did you start your blog? Basically, I got the idea. And then it didn’t go away for months, until I finally decided to go for it. I think that was definitely God nudging me, because I have so enjoyed my blogging journey so far and He is blessing my efforts beyond what I ever could have imagined when I wrote my first post!

If you could have dinner with any one person who’s alive right now, who would you choose? Jaquelle Crowe, the editor-in-chief of The Rebelution and the author of This Changes Everything (which is a great book that everyone should read) as well as the co-host of Age of Minority, my favorite podcast.  She’s a huge role model; besides that, I just think she would be really fun to talk to. And she loves food, so dinner would be an optimum time to have a conversation!

Favorite book of the Bible and why? I have a lot of favorites, but if I had to pick one I would probably say Hebrews. The entire thing is full of such beautiful writing and is just…so beautiful. It’s hard to understand but once I did understand it more I fell in love with it. (Amanda Beguerie’s Hebrews Bible Study was instrumental in developing my understanding of this beautiful book, by the way!)

Favorite music genre to listen to? My taste varies widely, but I always come back to hymns when I don’t know what else to listen to. I especially love Selah’s hymn albums…it’s music that I’m always in the mood for.

What’s your earliest memory? I honestly have no clue.

What job would you be great at, and what job would you be horrible at? I think I would be good at administrative jobs, teaching, or something else that required a lot of organizational skills. I would be horrible at anything that required advanced math or artistic skills.

Dream vacation spot? London.

big ben, bridge, clock tower

When writing, are you a plotter or a pantser? Most of the time I’m a plotter. I almost always have at least some kind of plan before I start writing. I do just wing it occasionally, though.

What makes you angry? Injustice in the world; abortion; people who say they are Christians but don’t live like it; people who make assumptions about Christians without really knowing what they’re talking about.

What accomplishments in your life are you most proud of? This blog is probably the biggest one. A hundred followers…I’m still wrapping my mind around it!

What has God been teaching you lately? That I am called to live for His glory even through hard circumstances, even when I don’t feel like doing anything…and that doesn’t mean doing things for Him all the time, but it can just mean simply leaning on His strength instead of my own, because that is just as glorifying to Him as working for His sake.

I tag:

Abigail Faith @ Faith and Mustard

Shantelle @ Between the Pages of This Bookish Life

Amanda @ Scattered Journal Pages

Deborah @ The Road of a Writer

Patricia @ Hello Beautiful People

Ashley @ Inklings Press

Emily @ For the Bookish

Christine @ Musings of an Elf

Victoria @ Ruffles and Grace

Abigayle @ The Left-Handed Typist

Grace @ From the Tip of Grace’s Pen

Here are the questions:

1. What would you say is the hardest season that God has brought you through so far? Looking back, what did He teach you through that season?

2. If you could only have three books with you on a desert island for the rest of your life, what would they be?

3. Do you prefer tea or coffee? And what kind (black or with cream and sugar, herbal tea, lattes, etc.)?

4. What is one sermon/talk that you think every Christian should listen to?

5. What is one book that you think every Christian should read?

6. What is your favorite way to rest and destress?

7. Was there a time in your life that God answered a prayer in a really amazing way (share the story!)?

8. What is one childhood hobby that you wish you’d kept pursuing?

9. What is one childhood hobby that you’re really glad you stopped pursuing?

10. What is your favorite hymn?

11. What books do you really want to read this summer?

The rules are: thank the person who tagged you, answer their 11 questions, then tag 11 people and give them 11 questions to answer.

(Please don’t feel any obligation to do this tag if you don’t want to…I would love to see how you answer these questions, but I know not everyone has time/energy/tags aren’t their thing/etc.)

There you have it! I hope you learned something new about me! Now, it’s your turn: pick a question, from the ones I answered or the ones I asked, and answer it in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

The Wisteria Writer Tag

Infinity Dreams Award

Lessons from the Law: God and Social Justice

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I hit 100 blog followers this week…what?? Thank you so much to all of you wonderful followers! It means so much to me that you take the time to read what I have to say, and I hope it continues to be an encouragement to you!

So far in this series, I’ve covered the sacrificial laws and the building instructions. There’s another major category I have yet to talk about: the social laws, the laws for justice and equality. To get a sense of what I’m talking about, read Exodus 23:1-9.

These are the laws that provided for order in the community, for justice and fairness. They seem mundane, addressing issues like being a court witness, lost animals, dealing with bribes. After talking about the glorious symbolism of the sacrificial system, what’s the point of these? After all, the civil law of the Bible is kinda obsolete. It’s not the civil law of the modern world. Why do we need to know it?

Because of what it teaches us about God’s character. There’s one big thing we can learn from all of these social laws: God cares about justice. 

In fact, the only hope for true social justice lies in God. All the people in our world today who are trying to cure world hunger and get rid of poverty and everything else? Those are noble goals. But they can never be accomplished by fallen humans.

Christianity is the key to true social justice: because being a Christian means loving others, treating them better than ourselves, and believing in the dignity and worth of every human being.

What better foundation for social reform could there be than that? 

Christianity’s social reform is perfectly consistent. Christianity’s social reform is based on eternal things. Christianity’s social reform will succeed when all else fails because it has God behind it. And when it doesn’t succeed in this world, there is always the hope of heaven to look forward to.

In these social justice laws of the Old Testament, we see the foundation of Christianity’s belief in loving others and caring for others. God is justice, and nowhere do we see that better than in the law books. That’s what laws are all about, after all; protecting the innocent and prosecuting the guilty. And that structure ultimately came from God, not men.

That’s why we read the civil law of the Old Testament: because it came straight from God, and it shows us what God values and cares about. And our goal as Christians should always, always be to learn more about the character of God.

love, grace

What do you think? What else have you learned about God’s character from the law books? Share in the comments!

 

Lessons from the Law: 2 Truths About Worship

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Sorry I didn’t post last week! I was in a show all weekend and just didn’t manage to get something up. 

I think the hardest passages in the entire Bible to get through, besides the genealogies, are the passages with building instructions like the ones in Exodus 25-28. Why do we need to know things like the measurements of the altar or what kind of wood it was made out of? What could that possibly have to do with the message of redemption or instruction for the Christian life?

But God put everything in the Bible for a reason, and there are things to be learned from even the longest passages of measurements and materials. Here are two of them.

1. God cares about how we worship.

The sheer volume of details in the Old Testament about worship rituals and the appearance of the temple should say something to us about our worship. God takes it seriously; therefore we should take it seriously.

Worship is not something to be glossed over, or done however we feel like it at the time. Our worship time is sacred. We are in the presence of God! Worship is a gift, and we should have a sense of the privilege and the gravity of that gift and take the details of it seriously.

In Christ, of course, we no longer have to follow a specific set of regulations and rituals, and there are many “right ways” to worship God. But the principle still stands: we are to put time and thought into how we worship.

2. Worship may not make sense to outsiders.

Sometimes I was reading along in these passages and came across something that sounded really ridiculous. (For example, the ritual described in Exodus 29 where the priests were consecrated by having blood put on the tips of their ears and their thumbs, etc.)

If you think about it, these sacrificial rituals that we read about and are familiar with might have seemed really strange to nations looking in from the outside. But everything God commanded had symbolic significance and a purpose. The same is true today. God’s commandments and the way we live our lives in worship to Him may not always look normal in the eyes of the world. But everything God commands has a purpose, and is for our good and His glory.

Those are just two truths I gleaned from reading about the worship of the Old Testament. I’m sure there is much more to be discovered if you prayerfully do a little digging!

love, grace

What do you think? What has God taught you about worship lately? Do you agree with my points or have anything to add? Share in the comments! 

Read more:

A Day of Rest, Joy, and Worship

A Day of Rest, Joy, and Worship, part 2: My Experience

 

April 2017 Month in Review

At this time every year, I’m reminded of how much I love spring (besides the allergies, of course.) My yard is full of azalea bushes, and once they all start blooming there’s an explosion of colors everywhere. Every time I step outside, I see pink and purple and yellow and white and green and it makes me smile.

I like fall for the same reason; when everything outside is so beautiful and colorful, it makes me think of God and thank him in wonder for His creation. He is a creative God. And since we are in the image of Him, our imaginations are in the image of His! Isn’t that cool? God is the ultimate creator, the ultimate artist, the ultimate designer, and we can be reminded of that every time we look at nature.

Bloggings of the Month

christian vs secular music2.jpg thoughts on how truth can be hidden in everything

old testament pt 1-2.jpg the intro to my new series on the Old Testament

old testament pt2 and the first installment: how the sacrificial system points to Christ

Image result for age of minority sharing my favoritest podcast ever with you

Truths of the Month

*the Israelites wanted a king so badly because they wanted to be like everyone else (1 Samuel 8:19-20)…this can be so dangerous

*religious rituals are no substitute for true obedience (1 Samuel 15:22)

*David is such an example of doing hard things as a teenager (killing a giant, anyone?)

*David immediately goes to God for refuge when he is in danger, not worrying or panicking but relying on the One who he knows will save him (1 Samuel 23)

*seasons come and go; grief will never last, and, in this life, neither will happiness; but that’s okay because we have eternal happiness to look forward to, and that’s not a season. it will last forever (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

*Christians are called to be the ones on the front lines, helping and serving, known for love above and beyond anything the world could ever have (John 13:34-35)

Favorites of the Month

PREORDER: Write The Word Journal // Cultivate Joy

I just discovered Lara Casey and her Write the Word journals. I have the yellow “Cultivate Joy” journal that I’ve been using in my morning devotions and I love it! It’s just so beautiful and a really good way to get into the Bible. Lara Casey’s blog is worth following too. She’s a Christian who posts about goal-setting and things like this, and her joy shines through!

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Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler is one of my favorite books now. It’s so sweet, and manages to be a light and enjoyable read without feeling trashy or like “fluff”. I’m always looking for books like that!

Image result for this changes everything jaquelle crowe

This Changes Everything by Jaquelle Crowe is a book that every. single. teenager. should read. It’s so simple, so practical, and yet if you really take it to heart it’s life-changing. Read my review on Goodreads for more.

 

I think that’s it for me for April! In May I’ll be continuing with several more installments of the Old Testament series. See you next week!

love, grace

How was your April? Did you read or watch anything good? What has God taught you in your devotions lately? Do you love spring as much as I do? Share int he comments below! 

Podcast Review: Age of Minority

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My Rating: Five Stars

Age Suggestion: 12+

Website: ageofminority.com

This is the podcast started by Jaquelle Crowe, the editor-in-chief of The Rebelution, and her dad. I started listening to it basically as soon as it came out, and it is by far my favorite podcast that I listen to. It makes me laugh, makes me think, and makes the drive to dance class (same route, there and back, four times a week…) much more interesting!

About the Podcast

The website describes it this way:

The Age of Minority Podcast is a podcast for young people about the gospel. Jaquelle and Sean talk about all things related to being a young person who is interested in having the gospel transform his or her life.

Basically, it’s a podcast where a girl and her dad sit down and talk together about a wide range of topics that all relate to Christian teens. There’s plenty of fun involved too (conversations about food, anyone…?).

A few prior episodes to give you an idea of the content: church, TV/movies, the Trinity, evangelism, reading, and the Sabbath.

My Thoughts

This podcast is the best.

Everyone should listen to it.

Can I be done now?

All jokes aside, this truly is my favorite podcast. Jaquelle and Sean talk about so many important topics and have tons of good things to say; each one is practical, inspirational, and truly helpful.

There’s plenty of fun, random conversation and joking, but it never overtakes the real message of each podcast. There is always helpful, substantial content, coming from two people who really love the Lord and live for Him and want to help others do the same. I find the two of them so inspiring and always come away encouraged.

And the fun, random stuff is what makes the podcast so special! The joking interaction between the two of them makes them relatable and proves that Christians don’t have to be solemn and sour-faced to talk about serious things. I often laugh out loud while driving down the street and I’m sure I look like an idiot to anyone who happens to be looking my direction. But I don’t care.

This podcast should be a part of every single Christian teen’s life. You can listen to it while you do chores, or work out, or drive…basically you have no excuse not to. I think you will find it entertaining and encouraging.

love, grace

Have you listened to Age of Minority? If so, do you like it? If not, will you start listening to it? Let me know in the comments!

Read more:

My Goodreads review of Jaquelle’s new bookThis Changes Everything

Lessons from the Law: The Sacrificial System

old testament pt2

Can you imagine having to kill an animal every time you sinned? Each angry word, impatient attitude, selfish action. Every time you worried. Every time a lustful thought, a jealous thought, a prideful thought entered your mind. Every time you put something else before God in your heart.

One of the most prominent features of the Old Testament law is the sacrificial system, taking up a good portion of the beginning of Leviticus as well as some scattered passages elsewhere. It can be difficult to read through all the specific requirements for offerings, when to sacrifice a goat and when to sacrifice a dove, and which parts of the animal to burn, and on and on.

But this is meant to make us realize how much more difficult it would have been to actually carry out these instructions, and to point forward to the One who released us from this burden once and for all.

The Sacrificial System

In Israel, overseeing offerings was one of the most important duties of the priests. Offerings were given for many occasions, such as festivals and the Sabbath (Numbers 28-29), but especially to atone for sin.

What did this offering look like?

It always required the shedding of blood, unless the guilty person could not afford an animal (Leviticus 5:11-13).

It had to be done in a particular way, with the help of a priest.

It was temporary, a way to atone for one particular sin. Therefore, it had to be repeated over and over, and could never fully remove the reality of sin from the life of the Israelites.

(If you want to read more about it, look at Leviticus 4-6.)

The Depth of Our Need

So why did God give us all of this incredibly detailed information about the Israelites’ sacrifices if he doesn’t expect us to sacrifice in this way ourselves?

To show us how desperately we needed Christ.

Here’s the thing: all of the sacrifices of the Old Testament had to be without blemish, that is, as perfect as possible, the best of what the guilty person had.

“When any one of the house of Israel…presents a burnt offering as his offering…if it is to be accepted for you it shall be a male without blemish, of the bulls or the sheep or the goats. You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you.” (Leviticus 22:18-20)

Lame animals? Not acceptable. Sick animals? Not acceptable. Injured animals? Not acceptable. God would only accept the best of the best.

That’s bad news for us. Because the sacrificial system was not meant to be permanent; it was meant to point forward to a time when our debt could be settled for good, when our sin could be paid for permanently. And the only kind of permanent sacrifice God would accept was going to have be the best of the best, perfect.

Who was there in the world who could meet those standards? None of us could. The Bible is very clear that every single human being is sinful. There was no way for us to save ourselves.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

The Glory of Easter

Once we see the complex demands of the Old Testament sacrificial system, we see our great need, and we see the glory of Christ’s death and resurrection, the only thing that could permanently pay for our sin.

None of us could meet God’s sacrificial standards, so Christ came and met those standards. All of us are sinful, but Christ lived a life without sin. We couldn’t save ourselves, so Christ came and saved us, because he loved us too much to leave us where we were. 

See, that Romans passage goes on. It doesn’t leave it at that horrible truth.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:23-25)

The writer of Hebrews explores the idea of Christ as the final sacrifice:

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come…he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption…indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins…

“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come…it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near…for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins…

“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…for by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

(excerpted from Hebrews 9-10; I highly recommend reading both those chapters in their complete form, as they pull this idea together very well)

This is why God gave us all the details of the sacrificial system for sin. He wanted us to see the absolute necessity of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, and how glorious those truths are.

Because it is glorious. Christ, in one final sacrifice, did what centuries of animal sacrifices could not do.  He came, died, and rose, and in doing that he paid it all. 

That’s what we celebrate tomorrow, Easter Sunday.

love, grace

What do you think? Have you looked at the sacrificial system this way before? Are there other passages in the Bible you can think of that complement the ones I shared? Tell me in the comments! 

Read more:

Advent Reflections, part 4: Love

A Day of Rest, Joy, and Worship

Why Be Good if Jesus Died?