As I read the news coverage of Osama bin Laden’s death, one forceful comment jumped out at me: “Welcome to Hell, bin Laden,” wrote Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate. Is Huckabee right? Is Osama bin Laden now in Hell?
Osama bin Laden lived by the sword, and he has died by the sword (cf. Matthew 26:52). Upon learning of his death, many in America celebrated that the wrath bin Laden stored up in his acts of mass murder had finally been delivered back to him on his own home ground.
Anyone who knows anything about the bloody butcher who boasted of his September 11, 2001 triumph might be quick, like Mr. Huckabee, to assign Osama bin Laden to an eternal fate of torture and merciless, mind-scarring agony, lasting countless billions of years on into infinity. After all, this is the “mainstream Christian” belief concerning the fate of unbelievers, and, as some might say, if anyone deserves such a fate, doesn’t Osama bin Laden?
But have you ever really thought about the common belief in Hell? Is it true that Osama bin Laden is now in his first days of countless billions upon billions upon billions of years of terrifying anguish and infinite torment, with billions upon billions upon billions of years more to come—pain, and suffering, and horrifying screams of torment, never to slow or cease, never to end? Is it true that God, who upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3), maintains what amounts to the cruelest concentration camp in the cosmos?
Furthermore, if “eternal Hell” is the home of all the “unsaved” who have died, then would we find, suffering alongside bin Laden, countless individuals—fathers, mothers and children—who died through the ages without knowing Jesus Christ? Would a man who claimed credit for the deaths of 3,000 people on September 11, 2001 be tortured alongside others who—regardless of how selflessly they may have lived their lives—simply had the misfortune of being born in a country too far from Christian missionaries to ever hear the name of Christ preached? After all, God’s perfect word tells us that Jesus Christ is the only name given under heaven by which we may be saved (Acts 4:12). Should these people share the same fate as the blood-drenched butcher of Al Qaeda—infinite billions and billions of years of unthinkable agonies and terror?
The Bible—which most Christians say they believe is “God’s word”—tells us that the God of heaven is not a “respecter of persons,” and that He does not show partiality among peoples and nationalities (Acts. 10:34; Ephesians 6:10). It reveals that God takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33:11), and that He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God also claims He can achieve the purposes of His heart (e.g., Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 24:14, 46:11; Ephesians 1:11) and that with Him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). So, are we to believe that the vast majority of the people He has created are now suffering indescribable torment for all eternity?
Well, if the Bible says so, then it says so. That’s it. Period. Right?
But what if it doesn’t say so?
In fact, the Bible says no such thing!
Yes, in God’s time, all will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ, having had a genuine opportunity to learn His truth and to repent of their evil ways (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Osama bin Laden will face God’s future judgment. “‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Hebrews 10:30). Some evil people will perish forever in a lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). But God is not some cruel tyrant who will condemn spiritually blinded people to Hell simply because of a blindness He did not remove (2 Corinthians 4:4)!
How can this be? What is God really doing? Please read our free booklet Is This the Only Day of Salvation? to learn the Bible truth about the fate of the dead. When you do, you will also discover God’s incredible plan for humanity. No, the God of your Bible is not a monster, and His plan for all human beings is both just and merciful, far more than almost anyone today understands!