The way that I've been taught is that in the beginning, God (I'm talking about the Abrahamic God, just so I'm clear) estabished "the rules" as in the "original one" — Don't eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, or surely you will die.
That one. We (our precursors, Adam and Eve) disobeyed that, and for that, God imposed a lifespan on us.
Following that, God saw that man was becoming more wicked due to their eyes being opened due to eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and thus, they started sinning in the eyes of God, because now, humans could see
the option of doing evil, and chose to do so anyway (whereas before, it may have been forgivable because humanity was blind to good and evil and innocent and ignorant of the differences).
So, God in a desperation move, wipes out the earth, save for the most righteous family — Noah and his sons. However, they were not really up to par with what God expected either, and so later, he gave man the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Judaic law that you can find in the Books of the Law — imagining, I'd suppose, that having a list of things God expected of you would keep mankind out of trouble.
From this, this is where God tells the people that blood must atone for their sins, and they start the practice of sacrificial atonement. Following this trend out for a few thousand years, God sends his son, Jesus to be the final
atonement sacrifice for mankind's sins.
God had saw that mankind had matured and did not need to be beholden to any laws any more (think of it like a parent giving their child more freedom the older they get), so he sends the perfect
sacrifice. A human (humans are special — they have souls, they have the capability to sin or not to, thus, this is more special than a simple animal sacrifice). But this human had to be blameless. So, god sends a facet of himself in human form (to maintain the "perfection" part of the equation) to die for us, thus, fulfilling the debt that we incurred as a species back when humanity first sinned and thus would "surely die". An innocent man took our place, and now the bargain could be fulfilled.
According to C. S. Lewis
, God doesn't
send anyone to Hell, so much as people choose to go. God asks us to accept the offer made by him through Jesus' death on the cross and claim our belief in him and our allegience to his cause — to save more people from making the decision to ignore the sacrifice that was made.
I suppose that, when I view it from a species-wide problem that we've incurred due to sin, I can see how God has to uphold his end of the punishment in that "we will surely die", and how he has no choice but to commit us Hell.
I should note that the "surely die" part is a bit of a translation confusion, in that, it means something more like "be permanently snuffed from existence". And that's how I view Hell. Not an eternal punishment/torture facility, but more of a eternity of non-being, which, I suppose in my thinking is worse than having an eternity of joy that is refreshing every day that I can enjoy in a new, perfected body.
In times of change, learners inherit the Earth and the learned find themselves perfectly equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists