“Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.”” (Isaiah 66:1–4 ESV)
God seems to be constantly reminding us that He cannot be pinned in, domesticated or manipulated by the systems, institutions and laws that He has given us. All of the ceremonies, laws, worship, covenants and military victories were (and still) are designed to point to the glory of God and the worship of the Creator. Instead the people regularly attempted to use these religious things in an attempt to manipulate God in to getting what they wanted. The problem is that what they wanted was His benevolent blessings more than they wanted Him. God looks favorably on the dependent, lowly & contrite spirit that recognize their spiritual bankruptcy and throw himself on the grace and mercy of God. (Matthew 5)
God views our worship that is not accompanied by a trembling, contrite heart is wicked as murder or idolatry. God is not interested in external compliance to His laws – God is after heart level transformation and increasing affection for Him. The people were using compliance to their Levitical worship in an attempt to control God and get Him to bless and protect them. We, too, often times, believe that God “owes” us protection, blessing or prosperity because of our morally clean lives or ability to keep God’s commands. This is idolatry that reveals a heart that is more interested in God’s blessings and gifts than is in knowing or walking with Him – this is the default mode of the human heart, but even Christians must carefully guard their hearts and ask what their true motivations are – what their desire is for and where their real treasures are. Our affections matter, they are the central component in the battle for our faith.