Honi was said to be a “prophet of God” but his actions were not consistent with that title.
Prophets of God did not arbitrarily act of their own accord. They waited to be instructed by God, and then they acted as instructed. One merely has to read scriptural accounts of the prophets to see phrases such as, “Thus says the Lord” to see this fact. Even Elijah waited for instruction from the Lord before acting or speaking as God’s prophet. Why? Because God acted through the prophets for certain reasons and purposes. The prophets were God’s chosen manner in which to bring about certain events or to teach His people certain things. However, this does not seem to be the case for Honi the circle maker. God did not tell Honi to draw a circle around himself, gather the people around, and then call down rain. Instead Honi acted in an arbitrary fashion, choosing on his own to draw a circle around himself, telling God he would not leave the circle until He sent rain, and then calling down that rain from heaven.(Wright & Cheetham)
Troubling interpretation of the word “circle”
The word “circle” figures prominently in Pastor Batterson’s book The Circle Maker. It appears in the title and is repeatedly used throughout the book in the dominant phrase of “circling the promises.” Oddly enough, however, the word “circle” does not seem to be Biblically compatible with the manner in which Pastor Batterson applies it. As an example, it is found in Isaiah 40:22:
22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
– King James Version (NKJV)Isaiah 40:22
It is obvious as we read this in context that the word “circle” is referring to the shape of the earth, used in connection with the Creator God (see also Proverbs 8:27 and Job 22:14). There are also references to the word “circle” in 1Samuel 26:7 ( Saul lying asleep inside the circle of the camp); Mark 3:34 ( Looking at those who were sitting in a circle around Him); see also Acts 14: 20. Yet none of these verses are related to the action of “circling promises” as Pastor Batterson advises.
There is, however, an attempt – albeit a false one – to show Scriptural support for enclosing oneself “within a circle.” In The Circle Maker, Pastor Batterson’s version of Habakkuk 2:1 on p. 159 with “I will stand upon my watch and station me within a circle.” (Emphasis mine)
That is not a valid interpretation. The correct interpretation is:
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower*
-Habakkuk King James Version (KJV)
*The only exceptions to “tower” that I found were “ramparts” and “guard post.” Nowhere did I find the word “circle” as part of the verse.
Pastor Batterson is aware that “tower” (*or “guard post” – depending upon the version used ) is the correct interpretation because he quoted that verse from the NLT in one of his earlier books, Primal on p. 125. In Primal he quoted it as it appears below – as “ guard post “ – not as “circle”:
I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post.(Batterson, p.125)
However, what is most troubling about this verse from Habakkuk which Pastor Batterson has quoted incorrectly is his admission on p. 159 of The Circle Maker that Habakkuk is his inspiration for the prayer circle he advocates in his book: “I’m sure Honi the Circle Maker prayed in a lot of different ways at a lot of different times. He had a wide variety of prayer postures. But when he needed to pray through, he drew a circle and dropped to his knees. His inspiration for the prayer circle was Habakkuk. He simply did what the prophet Habakkuk had done.” (emphasis mine)
Yet Pastor Batterson quoted Habakkuk differently than a multitude of other versions of that verse that I investigated. Therefore we are left with a serious problem: whose version of this verse shall we believe? Our answer will determine how we approach our next prayer time with our Heavenly Father.
AN EXAMPLE OF AN INCOMPLETE TRUTH
Other Biblical inconsistencies appear in The Circle Maker. In chapter five Pastor Batterson elaborates about what he calls the great miracle of “Quailmegeddon” in Numbers 11 where God sent 105 million quail. He quotes verses 31-32 and says “I love this miracle.” Let’s look more closely at how the Bible describes this miracle:
31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp.
– Numbers 11:31-32 New International Version (NIV)
Yes, it is a miracle isn’t it? Yet, that’s not quite the whole story. For the more complete version we need to go back a number of verses:
18 “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”
– Numbers 11:18-20 New International Version (NIV)
And now let’s go forward to the end of this story.
33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah,[a] because there they buried the people who had craved other food. (Emphasis mine) – Numbers 11:33-34 New International Version (NIV)
a. Numbers 11:34Kibroth Hattaavah means graves of craving.
Pastor Batterson says “I love this miracle.” Yet he leaves one fact out completely – this was a severe plague (v. 33) on the people for all their grumbling and rejection of God. It seems to be an important part of the story, doesn’t it?
Batterson, Mark. Circle Maker. Zondervan, 2016.
Wright, Connie, and Tammy Cheetham. “The Circle Maker.” Bible Believing Truth Watch, www.biblebelievingtruthwatch.com/the-circle-maker.html.
“The Giving of Quail, as in Exodus 16”, illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company. Source: http://thebiblerevival.com/clipart/1902/exodus16.jpg
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I would like to thank my fellow consultants for all their assistance in getting this blog published: Michelle Arrington, Hannah Hall, Ariel Mcgarry, Carol White, Tracy Yoder, and J.P.Wilhelm. Their encouragement and patience have been invaluable to me.