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We seldom use the word behold in common speech. But it is a crucial word in Scripture and an essential concept for our spiritual lives. I could have posted this on my thinking in the Spirit blog, but particularly because of the passage I have chosen, I believe it fits Watching In Prayer better.
Behold is used three times in Jacobs encounter with God in Genesis 28:12-14. I have italicized them to emphasize its significance.
Let me give you some applications of the word “behold,’ especially as it is used in this passage.
The foundational meaning of the word behold is simply to see. Here it means to see God. In Hebrews 11:27 we read that Moses endured because he saw Him who is invisible. Behold means to see the work of God. In John 5:19 Jesus said He could only do what He saw His Father doing. John 5:20 says the Father loves the Son and shows Him what He is doing. Behold is a command to see on a spiritual plane. We read about Stephen in Acts chapter 8. As he was being stoned for the gospel, the heavens were opened and he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He said “Behold, I see.” But those who were intent on stoning him were not willing to look.
Behold also calls us to pay attention to what God has to say to us. God spoke to Jacob standing above the ladder in his dream. And God will speak to you if you listen. He can speak to you in any way He chooses. He can speak in a dream. He will consistently speak to you in His word, in the fellowship of the church, in circumstances, and in all of these things, you will hear Him speaking as you pray.
Behold is a call to grasp the significance of what God is showing you. Jacob got it. He realized what God was saying to him. Realizing that God is speaking will open your heart you more and more meaning as you focus on what He is telling you, especially in Scripture. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9 God commands us.
Beholding expects believing. When God speaks you need to recognize that He is real and that He is really speaking to you. In John 12 when Jesus prayed that His Father would glorify His name, a voice came from heaven saying, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The people standing there were amazed. Some said, “An angel has spoken to him.” But Jesus said, No. “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.” God is speaking to you.
Behold calls us to experience the presence of the Lord. We seldom sing Surely The Presence in our churches. Its words come from verse 16 of Genesis 28.
Of course, these last words point us to the promise of the presence of Jesus any time we gather in His name. I have never sung the second verse of this song.
There is a special promise of His presence in church. We are also in His presence any time we are listening to His voice.
In verse 17 Jacob says he was afraid. He said what we should say every time we gather in church. “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
When you are in the presence of the holy God you ought to tremble like Jacob did. He was terrified. But it was not an earthly fear. He experienced the joyful fear of God.
The third verse of Surely The Presence sings.