If you could please explain to me what you meant in reason 2, that'd be great, I didn't get the full understanding of that.
Also, if I'm correct, these words are the words of God. If you're an Orthodox Jew, you're reading the original words of God, what he meant to be told to the people. I get that many say that the Old Testament is void, but I quite frankly find that stupid because that would mean God made a mistake, and God is an all-powerful being who can't make mistakes. And, if I'm correct, this means that at least at some point, God said that it was OK for his people to stone others for adultery or rape or whatever.
I get stoning a rapist, especially at those ancient times, but the woman if she does not scream? What if she was assaulted in the cellar, or some other isolated area where she could not be heard? I suppose they could ask God, but then again, I have no idea, I wasn't there.
You even said that this was a ceremonial law, yet all this means is that God was perfect fine with this performing this. He may not tell us to do it now, but he thought that it was fine at the time. I honestly just don't get the logic behind this.
Again, maybe I'm missing something. Feel free to help me out.
Sure! But before we start, let me precursor my reply with this: I am wrong sometimes. Life has shown me this. What I write to you here is the best of my knowledge, through study (not enough, but working on it) and what I believe to be accurate. I am not trying to convince you of anything, but merely share what I think I know. HOWEVER, I could be totally mistaken. And that is why it is so
important that your personal theology is fully explored by YOU. If I tell you something wrong, I will have to face God for my mistake. I am hopeful He will forgive me, but I take this very seriously. It is important to understand that even though it's my fault if I say something wrong, it won't excuse you if you take what I say at face value and don't look further into it. We are each responsible for ourselves. Check and double check anything I tell you here, because I am doing my best, but I don't want you to believe something that I got wrong (even though I think this is accurate). It's absolutely necessary that whatever someone tells us we confirm through Scripture, life experience, prayer, and the wisdom of others (along with Time).
I'd also say we're about to get pretty deep here. In the Bible it talks about "milk drinkers and meat eaters." This references where you are in your walk. (Neither is necessarily wrong, they are simply different levels of study for different times of life.) I spent 30 years not digging deep. I would not have been ready to hear this then. I don't know where you are in your journey, but if this seems overwhelming, that's understandable. A good teacher can help with it all, so seek those sorts of people out.
So, first of all, ceremonial law is Jewish law that was created (well, for many reasons, but one major one) for the purpose of setting aside the Jews as "God's People." As a unique example. He selected them not because they were righteous, but because it was what He decided. (I'm not sure if it says the why of this, actually, but it does say it wasn't because they were the "best" or on account of them themselves. I can look more into that if you'd like, or you can search "Why did God choose Israel" or something.) At any rate, the ceremonial law (like burnt offerings) existed to set them apart from the rest of the world.
The Old Testament is not void. It is continuing to do what was intended, namely show us that we can't save ourselves. This is complex (and yet, simple in many ways) but I will try to summarize (which does not do it proper justice): God created man and had one rule. Do not eat this one particular fruit. He did this on purpose, because if we are to have free will, we must
have choice. If He allowed us to do anything and everything, we wouldn't have choice. There had to be a "No" option for us to pick. And we did. We ate the fruit, and got the curse that went along with it. Then, along with that, came a whole host of other laws and rules. We had it easy with "don't eat that one fruit." We still didn't learn. So the Old Testament (including laws both ceremonial and moral) are there as reminders that we can't save ourselves. We aren't good enough. We don't truly want paradise if it means we have to act a certain way (obedience). This is essential, because if you don't know about a problem, there's zero hope to fix it. Grace is that fix, but it only comes if we want it. And we have no reason to want it if we think we're perfectly fine the way we are. (One look around the world and the news and it should be very apparent to anyone that we are not
perfectly fine the way we are.)
Okay, so in a way that's the easy part, ha ha. Now it gets harder.
"I get stoning a rapist" you said. This is again integral to the lesson everything is teaching us. We WANT to stone rapists. Or, at the very least, punish those we feel are wrong or criminals. And justice, as it were, is not a bad thing. The problem is we want justice for "them" and not ourselves. For ourselves we want forgiveness. When we see all the places in our own lives where we're broken, truly see them, it will crush us. I've seen GLIMPSES of my own brokenness, and I cannot begin to describe the agony. This is not even the totality of my own terribleness. A glimpse and I wailed and wanted to die. And I've never raped anyone, or killed anyone, or committed what many would consider the "worst" sins.
We try to color sin in ranges so we can feel better about the bad things WE do. "At least I'm not a rapist" is a way to sweep under the rug the fact that earlier today I snapped at my wife because I was tired. "I'm not as bad as some people who murder others" is used as consolation when I have to face the fact that - in spite of being forgiven - I don't extend that forgiveness to, say, a politician I disagree with. Or better yet, to Tom Brady of the Patriots (american-football team). I get so caught up in the game of football that I hate Tom Brady, who always seems to win. That hatred is sin, and it's not okay EVEN IF I don't go murder someone like someone else might. But oh my gosh, it is SO EASY to justify. It is so easy to say "Well, I'm not so bad, a LOT of people hate Tom Brady. And also he cheated during one Super Bowl, so he's a jerk. It's okay to hate him."
But we don't get to do that, as Christians. We are judged to the extent we judge others. If I hate Tom Brady, that sin is getting in the way of my relationship with God, whether I've committed adultery, or cheated on my taxes, or stolen from a church or not.
So, point 1: One major reason the law is there is to show us we're broken and need help.
Point 2: WE want to be forgiven, but to punish and condemn others when they screw up.
I hope that makes sense. Now we head into the deepest, most challenging part.
"And, if I'm correct, this means that at least at some point, God said that it was OK for his people to stone others for adultery or rape or whatever."
Here is one of the hardest things to ever come up against as a human being. Because literally the Bible has that in there. We can't hide from it, it is written clear as day. And we don't LIKE that. We don't like the parts where God gets angry, or where he says to go slaughter a town (including children), or where he condemns people to Hell. We want God to be warm and fuzzy and love us and The End. Nothing else. Don't tell us about that other side, God. Let us just live in the fluff. The fluff is comfy and nice. That's the God we want.
But God has bigger plans. He wants us to see the darkness for a reason.
He wants us to have the truth of this life and this Universe. In spite of the fact that we would rather not see it, He knows if we don't open our eyes and experience this, we will inevitably go right back to the tree and pick another piece of fruit. (Aka, we will go back to our prideful will.) So He shows us everything. Every scar and ugliness that comes from sin. There was no stoning anyone or anything before we chose to leave paradise. (Whether you believe Adam and Eve is literal or figurative matters very little, as both produce the same result.) This law is not given to us gleefully. God does not sit on his proverbial cloud, laughing and saying "Yay, my children are murdering each other with rocks, just like I want!" The totality of the Bible will prove one thing: God loves us. Why I still don't understand. I've tried to understand, but that escapes me. Why does He love me? I'M LITERALLY AWFUL. Yet here we are, and here that love is.
There's a great deal more to all this, which takes years (a lifetime, even!) of dedicated effort to uncover. It is, as I said before, both complex and beautifully simple. The simple version is "I am broken, I need saving, I can't save myself." From there it goes outward, becoming more and more complex as we understand our own limitations and how truly little we actually know. One day it will be explained fully, with no question left unanswered. We will be able to handle it all then, every last bit. In the meantime, we learn what we can in order to hear the "Why" that the Bible was written to teach us. A why of love, but also of truth. Truth about justice and sin and horror, alongside truth about peace, and compassion, and forgiveness. And among it all, we are called to love others.
We have to have both sides of the story. To have anything less would be to leave us for dead.
(I hope that helps some. Again, fact check ALL of it. I am nothing more than dust trying to point to the truth, and sometimes I fail. Anyone else is welcome to chime in with thoughts, too.)