Jody Capehart is an educator at heart and is known as “The School Whisperer” as she encourages, equips, and empowers teachers, students, and parents. Jody founded a number of Christian, classical schools and served as a Head of School for 45 years. Jody served as a minister to children for 8 years. Jody is an author of 15 books on education and parenting including international translations.
Many thanks to Jody for sharing her wisdom and her time with us!
You can find Jody’s published books and resources HERE.
Dr. E: You’ve done some interesting research into the festivals mandated, decreed by God, in Leviticus and have found that each of them points to Christ. Let’s back up a little, tell me how you became interested in beginning this study?
Jody: Years ago, while teaching VBS, I found I just didn’t like the traditional children’s programs. Apologies to the publishers, but I just felt like children needed more depth.
So one year we wrote our own curriculum based on the five main festivals – and I had no trouble recruiting [teachers] because we realized we were going to learn. So we did the first year and found that all of these festivals point to Christ!
The next year we built a tabernacle – an exact reproduction based on the materials and measurements in Scripture – and that really intrigued our Jewish neighbors: “Why are you building our Temple?”
It was such a bridge-builder.
The following year we focused on holidays like Purim and Hanukah, and it was just so meaningful – that’s when I got hooked.
I love holidays, but I see a problem in our culture:
We are never focused on now
We’re connected 24/7 because of our electronics, and the commercialism always points forward – we go into stores on July 5th and everything is Fall, and in August when we want to start to welcome Fall, all our stores are displaying everything Halloween…
So I think another thing I love about the festivals is that they so focused:
They are all about God, rest is inherent, family is celebrated.
I think as people are reading through the Bible and they get to Leviticus, they become a little wary because some of this isn’t relative to our world. It’s easy to check out and go on through the next book in the Bible, but there are things that have really impacted me:
- Leviticus 10:3 when the sons of Aaron did not follow God’s rules, but Aaron was at peace.
So often there is this entitlement within parents today who believe their kids should have everything that they want for them, but Aaron’s modeled peace was centered on God.I want to encourage parents even when our children make choices or suffer consequences we wouldn’t wish for them, keep your peace.
- Leviticus 16:6-10 the atonement, which was for the sins of Aaron and the rest of the Hebrews, and now we see Christ as the atonement for our sins.
- Leviticus 19: the moral and ceremonial laws. Talk about what is needed today! This entire chapter is so antithetical to the world we live in now that it can sometimes be overwhelming
- And then, the feasts beginning in Leviticus Chapter 23 with the Sabbath.
Dr. E: We know that all of the ten commandments are repeated in the New Testament except for the Sabbath because, as Jesus stated, it was a gift. It’s not just not going to work, or not mowing the yard – so elaborate for us some insights you see in Leviticus 23.
Jody: In my opinion we needn’t get legalistic about WHEN we should Sabbath.
To Sabbath simply means to rest: to be reflective, to worship, to get quiet, to read.
And I would say, in today’s world, turn off electronics.
It would make all the difference in the world if we’d take a sabbath from our electronics.
We see this all the time: a family is sitting down to dinner and no one is looking at each other asking about their day, or how they’re doing–they’re on their phones.
It also happens often that we’re having a good discussion with someone, and then they get a notification on their phone and they’ve left the conversation to respond to that alert.
And that’s not how we connect with one another.
Perhaps people aren’t ready to go 24 hours [without their devices], but maybe try an hour, or just have it off for the evening.
Dr. E: And some families will all put their phones in a basket – I’ve even heard of restaurants where you’ll put your phone into a little locker when you go in and pick it up when you leave.
So let’s go back, we’re talking to a family: what are other ways we would encourage them to observe the Sabbath?
Jody: I would encourage them to think about these questions:
What brings you peace? What brings you rest?
Having a meal together, talking to one another, and setting that tone is a good beginning. Then, that evening, do something together that you all enjoy.
One thing I did with my kids is that one got to select what we did and what we ate one week, and another did the next week, and so on. That made it a time of sharing, and if someone didn’t enjoy a week they didn’t complain because their week was coming up.
The next day, just resting, reading, prayer. I taught my kids to keep a praise and prayer journal and we’d look at that and observe how God was answering our prayers. Sometimes we’d each do our own thing but it would be quiet.
Sabbath is also a great day to have company, to visit with friends, and to serve those in need so that we and our children are thinking outside of ourselves and contemplating what we can do for others.
Dr. E: Did you ever have set questions you’d ask your kids? Family dinners were important to us as our kids were growing up and Cindy had these questions, and it might be as simple as: what was a highlight about today, what was a challenge, and what are you looking forward to tomorrow?
And then trying to bring in the Christian life, how do we help a family sitting around the dinner table say, how are we looking at this through Christ’s lens and thinking about the Festivals: Why does it matter?
Jody: When my children were little I would say, “okay, let’s be detectives: look and see where God is at work, and share with the family.”
I love little children because they can make everything into a game and have instant buy-in. It sets a habit.
They do go through times around age 12-13 of being a little more cynical, so I would say to them: how about you help the younger kids be leaders by showing them how you use your gifts? And they wouldn’t always want to do that, but the more that you empower kids when they reach that age, the more you can get through that season and establish them as leaders.
Last, just not pushing. The more you can keep it spontaneous, the better. We don’t want to be legalistic and forceful, we want to model a habit that our children can incorporate into their lives as they become adults. If you’re asking the questions and no one’s coming up with responses, you can share something from your day that may serve as a catalyst for your children to think of something to share.
Dr. E: That’s really helpful, Jody. Anything else about Sabbath?
Jody: I realized in all of my research and reflection on the Sabbath, and felt very convicted, that I have held up work as an idol – I took pride in how hard I worked.
Going through all of this in Leviticus, God is constantly saying, “Rest. Rest.” at the end of each festival: “Rest.”
Rest is important to God, and that is so convicting for me. Reading and journaling and gardening are forms of rest for me that come easily to me – but the last few years especially, I’ve been working way too hard.
So I found it interesting that the Lord literally stopped me, I was in a car accident and in the hospital, and for months I could only lie flat in a dark room. I couldn’t have anything and wasn’t able to do anything, and I thought, “Oh, Lord, you’re so good.” Of course, I didn’t immediately see it as a gift, but I grew to see it as such.
When I realized that was a gift from Him, it’s made me appreciate that whatever boundaries we can put on our lives and around our days and our families to simply stop and abide and rest in Him, are a gift.
Dr. E: Can you help us define rest? Because it’s not just ceasing from being busy, or from activities, right? It’s not sitting in the Lazy-boy watching the SEC…
Jody: Right. A Sabbath rest is one in which we are resting and we are reflecting on God and His goodness and the ways He works in our lives.
For little kids who aren’t going to stay quiet all day, I haven’t found a child yet who doesn’t blossom under focused attention, so plan to do something directly with your children giving them the gift of your presence, and find some time to be quiet.
When you and I raised our kids, Michael, we didn’t have to compete with electronics – so in today’s world, I think it’s important we take baby steps. Maybe as a family we can do one hour or one evening and work our way up to a day with no electronics.
God rested. If God rested, it must be very, very important.
So what are ways that we can rest in our family? And let them start thinking about it.
We don’t want to get legalistic about it, we want to just form the habit with our children.
Dr. E: Jody, thanks for your time – I know you have lots more information about this and we’ll have links to some materials if listeners want to continue their research into these festivals and sabbath practices.
That’s our goal here at inContext: Helping you apply God’s word in your life and the lives of those that you love and minister to.
Jody, thanks again for your time!