Monday, April 16, 2012

Last night Bonnie went to a youth group at an area church.  We don't exactly see eye to eye doctrinally but Todd and I saw this group as a positive social activity for our daughter and have allowed her to attend providing she report back what was being taught.  Lately, there has been concern since their youth pastor has moved to another church and various people are filling in.  Bonnie came home telling us that the lesson was  how to pray and the story taught was about a guy who drew a circle in the sand and told God he was not moving from the circle until God answered his prayer.  Try as hard as I could, I could not remember that story anywhere in the Bible.  Once we got home I began to dig through my Bible and still could not find the story.  That is when I asked for Todd's help.  Guess what?  He didn't know about it either.  Why?  Because it is not in the Bible.  It is a Jewish legend.  We did some research and this is what I found.

Honi Ha-me'aggel (the Circle-Maker) was a renowned pietist in the period of the Second Temple (first century BCE) who was said to have performed good deeds by using extraordinary powers of prayer or by performing miracles. According to popular legend, Honi slept for seventy years and on awakening prayed for death rather than living in a strange world.

The following story, which tells of his power to bring rain in times of drought, is recorded in many sources. His name, ha-Me'aggel ("one who draws circles") is usually taken to be connected with this incident[1]. Some scholars claim he was named Honi Ha-me'aggel after the place from which he came, [2] while others suggest he was so called as he was often called to repair roofs or ovens, with a ma'gillah ("roller").[3]

Once there was a terrible drought in the land of Israel. It was already the month of Adar, which usually marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of spring, but no rains had fallen all winter long.

So the people sent for Honi the Circle-Maker. He prayed, but still no rains came. Then he drew a circle in the dust and stood in the middle of it. Raising his hands to heaven, he vowed, "God, I will not move from this circle until You send rain!"

Immediately a few drops fell, hissing as they struck the hot white stones. But the people complained to Honi, "This is but a poor excuse for rain, only enough to release you from your vow.

So Honi turned back to heaven and cried, "Not for this trifling drizzle did I ask, but for enough rain to fill wells, cisterns, and ditches!

Then the heavens opened up and poured down rain in buckets, each drop big enough to fill a soup ladle. The wells and the cisterns overflowed, and the wadis flooded the desert. The people of Jerusalem ran for safety to the Temple Mount

"Honi!" they cried. "Save us! Or we will all be destroyed like the generation of the Flood! Stop the rains!"

Honi said to them, "I was glad to ask God to end your misery, but how can I ask for an end to your blessing?"

The people pleaded with him, and he finally agreed to pray for the rain to stop. "Bring me an offering of thanksgiving," he told them, and they did.
Then Honi said to God, "This people that You brought out of Egypt can take neither too much evil nor too much good. Please give them what they ask so that they may be happy."

So God sent a strong wind that blew away the fierce rains, and the people gathered mushrooms and truffles on the Temple Mount.

Then Shimon ben Shetakh, head of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, said to Honi, "I should excommunicate you for your audacity,[4] but how can I, since you're Honi! God coddles you as a father does his young child. The child says: 'Hold me, Daddy, and bathe me, and give me poppyseeds and peaches and pomegranates,' and his father gives him whatever he wants."

So it was with Honi the Circle-Maker.
This story was taught to give our children an example on how we should pray.  This is not the example that God gives us in his scriptures.  Tonight Bonnie got a second lesson on not only what does God teach us about prayer, but discerning what is scriptural and what is man's teachings. 

Needless to say, we are concerned.  This is what is wrong with our churches today.  They are not teaching the Word of God to our kids.  Bonnie assumed this story was in the Bible, I am sure many other kids went home believing it is in the Bible too.  Jews still share this legend.  Jews who refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.  Be Warned!  Check out what is being taught to you and your children.  Check it against scripture, just as the apostle Paul told us to do. 

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