Question: If God knows all things—past, present and future—before they happen, does this mean that He condemns people to hell before they are even born?
First, God is all knowing:
Heb. 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Second, hell was created for Satan and his rebellious angels, not people, even though millions will end up there:
Matt. 25:41 “Then he will say to those (people at the Judgment) on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Think of it this way—farmlands and cities were never intended to be a place for thousands of mutilated bodies, yet millions have ended up there as the result of war.
The word “cursed” Jesus used in the verse above is the Greek word kataraomai, meaning, “doomed”. The idea is that these people standing before God on Judgment Day are beyond the point of rescue. Like the last moment before impact in a car crash, when the time to turn the wheel or apply the break is passed, collision is inevitable—it is doomed to happen.
Third, although God knows everything in advance, He allows for human free will. The apostle Peter reminds followers of Jesus how choices in life-style are theirs to make:
1Pet. 4:3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.
Some things, however, God does predetermine to take place to fulfill His purpose for creation. The apostles, for example, were specifically predestined by God for their role as apostles:
Eph. 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…
God does not predetermine in advance who is going to hell because He desires that no one end up there. The time we have on this planet, individually and for the human race, is our opportunity to swerve out of its path. If our loyalties lie with living for self-interest rather than for God we will perish. If our loyalties lie with Jesus, who rescues us for life in His Kingdom, we will enjoy eternal life:
2Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
The entire human race is on a collision course with hell. Like children born in Hiroshima or Nagasaki before the A-bomb hit, we are born into a world doomed to destruction due to the choices of others made long before we were born. Because God sees all things, He sent His Son Jesus into the world to rescue us from certain destruction:
John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.