Now if a friend or family member announced his or her entrance in such a way, we would laugh at the pretentious nature of those words: “Who does he think he is, calling out to us, ‘Look at me!’?”
Behold can mean to just look at or call attention to something. Besides gazing at a particular person or thing, we can also contemplate more in depth what we’re viewing.
But in the Bible, “behold” says much more. Actually there is no real way to substitute another English word for the way the Scriptures use “behold.” It literally means, "Be sure to see this!" "Don't miss this! It is an observable, objective fact!" It also might be defined as “Pay careful attention to what is to follow!” or “Listen! This is very important!” The word is meant to stop the readers or hearers in their tracks and get them to pay attention to what is said. “Behold” brings life into the whole message!
There are over one thousand uses of “behold” in the Bible. The actual number depends on which translation is used. And the NIV doesn’t even bother using the word, which to me is disappointing. Something is missing from the drama of the moment. I’m not “stopped in my tracks” either.
Consider the importance of the dramatic pause contained in these famous passages, ones we may even have memorized:
“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31 ASV).
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20 ASV).
In fact, if you take out “behold” from that second passage, I won’t even be able to sing one of my favorite Sunday School songs anymore!
The word “lo” is often used interchangeably with “behold” depending on the translation. These are not ordinary words, and they signal there is something extraordinary that will follow. But it’s the certaintyexpressed with these words that I’m counting on, especially in this comforting assurance from my Lord Jesus: “andlo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20 ASV).
But let’s just focus on the Christmas story, including the announcement to Mary and everything that followed. There are more than ten uses of “behold” and “lo.” Just like “behold” the word “lo” calls attention to an interesting or amazing event or expresses wonder or surprise: “and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Matt. 2:9 KJV).
As wonderful as the star’s miraculous attributes were, I’m sure nothing could have been more amazing than the appearance of the angel to the shepherds with the announcement:“Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people” (Luke 2:10 ASV).
Today, when you put the two words “lo” and “behold” together it creates a phrase that is more often heard. “Lo and behold…” introduces a new scene or situation or turn of events. It’s something surprising, but in fact it could have been predicted. “Lo and behold, who should be standing there but my dearest friend!”
Now I don’t think “Lo and behold” is used in scripture. (Be my guest and check it out!) However, the Bible is full of predictions that did come true. Every one of them! And the most amazing one of all was predicted hundreds of years before it actually happened… our Lord Jesus’ birth plus each and every detail of His amazing story.
Check out all of the “beholds” and “los” in the Bible. I’m sure you’ll agree that we all need to be reminded to stop and pay attention, especially during these busy times.
I know I don’t want to miss any part of it! Especially those tidings of great JOY!