God knows everything. He knows some people will reject Him and therefore will go to hell. So does God want people to go to hell?
God does not want that people go to hell. He wants them to be saved. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 speak about “God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth“.
God will judge
Yet we know that not all people acknowledge the truth and are saved. And God will judge them for that: “…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might“, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.
God wants all people to be saved
So God wants all people to be saved. And He also wants to punish those who do not believe. These two things are not contradictory. When you ask ‘does God want people to go to hell?’, the answer is: ‘it depends on what you mean with ‘want’.’ An example will clarify this. After dinner, there are a lot of dishes to be done. Do you want to do them? Probably not, you’d rather do something else. Yet you do them, because you know that if you don’t, you won’t have plates and cups to use at breakfast. So even though you do not want to do the dishes, you still do it. You could say that you want to do it more than you do not want to do it.
God does not save everyone
In the same way, God wants all people to be saved. But that not all people are saved, shows there is another side to this as well. In Romans 9:22-23 we read: “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory?”
We do not know and cannot know the deepest thoughts of God. But here we see that there are at least three reasons why God does not save everyone. The first is that He wants us to understand his righteous anger over sin. The second is that He wants us to understand His sovereign power. The third is that the riches of His glory in those who are saved shine even more clearly in contrast with the ones who chose to not obey God.
The realization that God’s judgment and hell are realities, pushes us to take spiritual realities serious. It calls us to faith in Christ and to a life devoted to God. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).