Some atheists complain that it is unfair of God to condemn unbelievers to hell. In the Bible there is an example of this type of illogical reasoning.
In Numbers 20:2 we read, “Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarrelled with Moses and said, ‘If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink.'”
They conveniently forgot that they cried out about the slavery.1 Worse, when God wanted to take them into the promised land of milk and honey, they refused to believe God could do it. By their own actions they ‘inherited’ the 40 years of wilderness wanderings. They complained, but forgot that they caused it.
Atheists do the same. Let’s look at it. A requirement for the eternal Kingdom of Peace is obedience to the King. Man cannot obey, but by God’s grace and mercy, He sent His Son Jesus, who paid the penalty of death to nullify God’s decree of, ‘The wages of sin is death.’ One can escape the penalty (hell), if one accepts by faith that Jesus paid it. 2
Jesus does not come with a price tag. Faith in Him is free for anyone who will believe. So there is no excuse not to become part of God’s eternal Kingdom. There is no excuse for anyone who willingly chooses to reject God’s gracious free offer. God cannot be blamed for people’s decisions to reject citizenship in God’s country.
Still, why hell for unbelievers (rebels who refuse to acknowledge God)? It is because there are only two eternal destinations and no other alternatives. One is the new heavens and earth where God is the Ruler. The other is the lake of burning sulphur, where the devil is the ruler. God’s people will be with Him on the new heavens and earth. The only alternative is with the devil in hell, ‘…into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ 3
Did the Israelites have reason to gripe about what happened? No! They decided to disbelieve God. Do atheists and other people have reason to accuse God of being unfair? No, they decided with their own free will that they are not interested in God and His plan for man.
Conclusion: Griping and whining about the ‘Cosmic Tyrant’ is useless, since He has provided an escape route from hell. The example of the Israelites is a wonderful lesson: don’t grumble if something is your own doing. Atheists could do well to learn from that Biblical example.
1. Exodus 3:7; 4:31; 12:33-36
2. Colossians 1:22-23a
3. Matthew 25:41