14:7 FEAR GOD AND GIVE GLORY TO HIM
“Saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water” (Revelation 14:7). At first glance it seems incongruous that the “good news” begins with the statement, “Fear God.” Perhaps this is because a command to fear any other person would mean to be afraid of him. But the story of the beginning of sin shows that fear of God does not mean being afraid of Him.
Before Adam and Eve sinned, “the man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25). It was only after they disobeyed that they began to feel the negative emotions of shame, guilt and fear—“Adam and His wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God...Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid” (Genesis 3:8-10). From this passage we see that being afraid of God is a result of the guilt that accompanies sin, but that God seeks out those who are hiding in fear. We also see that something in the way God related to Adam after his sin made him feel like he could answer and come out of hiding and resume interaction with God. That something is God’s love that “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
All through the scriptures we find the seemingly contradictory messages, “Fear God” and “Do not fear.” For example, in Luke 12:5 Jesus said, “I will show you whom you should fear: fear Him [God] who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; I say to you, fear Him!” But then a few verses later He said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (v. 32).
This apparent contradiction highlights the fact that there are two kinds of “fear of the Lord” described in the Bible. Unbelievers and those who are disobedient should fear God because of the judgments they are bringing upon themselves. God’s abhorrence of the results of sin (pain, suffering and death) is such that He cannot let sin continue to exist, even though its destruction means judgment and death for the beloved sinners who refuse to let go of it. We should not think that God has picked out some behaviors he doesn’t happen to like (sin) and lashes out to punish those who dare to disobey Him. Death is inherent in sin. God, in love for all who suffer together from the results of sin, will eliminate sin and everything connected to it. This is what the judgment is about, and this is why Jesus said, “Fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28). God will destroy sin, and because of this unrepentant sinners should be afraid to continue in it.
Those who believe the Gospel do not have to be afraid of the judgment. Jesus said, “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24). This is what the apostle John meant when he said, “By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the Day of Judgment. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment.” (1 John 4:17,18). God depicts Himself as a loving father welcoming us with open arms. The prodigal son returned home from his life of dissipation, and his father, who represents God, “saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). We do not need to be afraid of God. However, even if we love God and believe in Him we need to have the “fear of the Lord.”
This is the fear that recognizes that I am a sinner, and but for God’s grace I would be just as hopelessly lost as any murderer, rapist or thief on earth—“If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared” (Psalms 130:3,4). It is the fear that recognizes that I am totally dependent upon Him for my very existence—“Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest” (v. 24). The fear of the Lord is to share His hatred of sin, which has blighted our lives and destroyed the lives of those we love—“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: Pride and arrogance and the evil way” (Proverbs 8:13).
Most of all, the fear of the Lord is the knowledge that I am a simple decision away from leaving the Lord’s “narrow way” and embarking on the “broad way” of pain, sorrow and death that the devil would like to lure me onto—“I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me” (Jeremiah 32:40). We should fear doing anything that would result in our ending up with Satan as our lord.
The result of fearing the Lord is obedience, and this is what it means to “give glory to Him.” Jesus said, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit… If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:8-10). This is the final result of the three angels' messages: “Here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).
 This is clearly taught in Psalms 34—“Come you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord…Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth…Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all…Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous shall be condemned” (Psalms 34:11-22).
 See Matthew 7:13,14.
 See also 1 Peter 2:12, 2 Corinthians 9:13