"Mr. Jones, you have an appointment . . .."
First, other versions of 1 Peter 2:8 translate the verse differently. The NASB Updated Version translates it as follows:
[Speaking of those who reject Jesus as the cornerstone:] ". . . for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed" (my bold print).
(By the way, the word doom is in italics in the NASB, meaning it was supplied by the translators to make the meaning of the verse clearer.)
The NASB's word for destined is appointed. We all, believers and unbelievers alike, have an appointment with death, and it is unavoidable and certain. Not all of us, however, have an appointment with spiritual death--that is, once we become believers in Christ! Our "appointment" is with Jesus in heaven for all eternity. As the writer to the Hebrews said,
"And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him" (9:27--Notice the writer's use of the word once in 9:12, 26, 27, and 28).
On the other hand, according to 1 Peter 2:8, unbelievers who are "disobedient to the word [of God]" do have a date with spiritual death, from which there is no escape, no do-over, and no hope. This is sad but true. Jesus, after all, spoke more of hell than of heaven--in part, I think, because he was that serious about it.
Just as a lifeguard at the beach posts warnings about undertows to make beachgoers aware of the danger of being swept out to sea, Jesus made his audiences aware of the danger of rejecting his message and refusing the lifeline, which he was more than happy to throw them if they in simple faith would grab it, realizing the spiritual danger they were in should they reject his lifeline.*
The Meaning of "Destined" (or "Appointed")
Here is how Constable explains your verse in question:
Election results in the salvation of some (1 Peter 1:2), but it also means destruction for others (2:8).
“'In the immediate context it is not so much a question of how Christian believers perceive Christ as of how God (in contrast to ‘people generally’) perceives . . . [His Christ], . . . [but] how God consequently vindicates both Christ and his followers'” (Michaels, p.104).'
"To what does God appoint those who stumbled . . .[?]. . .[Is it] unbelief, or [is it] the stumbling that results from unbelief? In the Greek text the antecedent of “to this” (eis ho) is the main verb “stumble” (proskoptousi), as it is in the English text. “Are disobedient” (apeithountes) is a participle that is subordinate to the main verb. Therefore we would expect “to this” to refer to the main verb “stumble” rather than to the subordinate participle “are disobedient.” God appoints those who stumble to stumble because they do not believe. Their disobedience is not what God has ordained, but the penalty of their disobedience is (cf. Acts 2:23; Rom. 11:8, 11, 30-32)."
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is certainly good news; it does, however, have an unpleasant flip side if the good news is neither believed nor received.
We have a synecdoche of sorts (i.e., a "part to whole, whole to part" relationship), played out for us on Mount Calvary, where two thieves are being crucified, one on Jesus' left and the other on Jesus' right. When their torture begins, they both rail against Jesus (Matthew 27:44). When their torture progresses, however, one of the thieves repents and asks Jesus for permission to enter his kingdom. Jesus told the repentant thief,
"Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Think of the one thief as representative of unbelieving humanity, and the other thief as representative of believing humanity. In the approximately 2000 years since Jesus' cross-death and subsequent resurrection, the choices--one good and one bad--made by the two thieves at Golgotha have been played out in the lives of humankind, one soul at a time. "In the world there are two kinds of people," my pastor says, "and they are saints and ain'ts." How true.
Without even touching on the controversial--albeit biblical--topic of election, and without addressing the polarizing subjects of heaven and hell, I must confess I am not a universalist in my theology or outlook. By that I mean I do not believe every human being will eventually be saved, either in this life or the next. I wish I were a universalist, but as they say, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride . . .." If Jesus believed everyone would be saved "in the end," then reason demands he teach that belief accordingly. Instead, he taught that for a person not to believe in him is to have
"been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:17 NASB Updated).
Yes, there are dire consequences for unbelief. The path of belief, however, is not dire, but delightful! For those who are in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Notice in particular the verse which follows perhaps the most famous verse in all of Scripture (viz., John 3:16):
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him" (John 3:16-17, my bold print).
If the main sticking point for you concerns the kind of election Peter implies (and you infer) in the verse in question, Constable has summarized my viewpoint well. I'll repeat it here in my own very liberal paraphrase:
God, in his love and mercy, does not appoint humankind to unbelief, inasmuch as we all are born in a state of unbelief and are separated from God because of sin. We all are sinners by nature and by practice. To continue in sin is to stumble over the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ; namely, that Jesus did all that was necessary to reconcile God to us and us to God.
- Like the man sitting on top of his house during a flood, who was confident God was going to rescue him: When a man in a boat came rowing past his house and offered him a seat in his boat, he said, "No thanks, God is going to rescue me!" The same thing happened with a canoeist and a rescue helicopter. All he would say is, "No thanks, God is going to rescue me!" The man dies, he appears before God, and he asks God, "Lord, why didn't you rescue me?" To which God says, "I sent you a boat, a canoe, and a helicopter. What more did you want?"