"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice; an acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings"
Under the leadership of its own civil and religious leaders, Israel had begun to imitate Canaanite evils including ritual prostitution. They felt safe to do so as long as they continued to observe the temple services according to the Law of Moses. But religion's forms are no substitute for religion's true heart. The knowing of God is never disconnected from the living of God.