Hating religion is very popular.
Because of this it's easy to import the anti-religion bias into scripture. This seems to happen a lot when people read the writings of the prophets. The prophets write at times of crisis when the people of God have begun to turn their back on him, and God is not pleased with what they are doing.
This tendency can easily be interpreted by people with an anti-religon bias as God hating the religion of the people. This, however, is the furthest thing from the truth.
As I have read through the Eighth Century Prophets (Isaiah Hosea Micah Amos) over the last few weeks I have noticed that although the prophets in the Old Testament condemn what people are doing, they are not condemning the structures and systems of their society in which the people are abusing.
- The king at the time might be condemned, but the HOPE is not for no king but rather for a king true to the heart of God who trust in the LORD.
- The people are called Harlots because they are seeking help from other nations (and other nations God's), but the solution is not to cease being a nation. RATHER God calls the people to be a nation that trust in His promises rather then the horses, chariots and deities of empires.
- Rituals are condemned for being empty, but the hope is not that rituals will pass away. RATHER the prophets call for rituals that flow from a life of justice and mercy and praise. God seeks rituals based in trust and obedience with righteousness and justice
Worship if not a formula to gain favor today, but the means through which God shapes the people for participation in the economy of heaven.
This economy is one that seeks God and Neighbor about yourself. This economy values Justice over comfort. This economy sees the Humble exhaled and the exhaled made humble.
Religion is designed to be the school through which God leads people to this understanding. In fact it's the BEST way to teach people about how to live and worship with God. THAT is why it's so despicable when it is manipulated to try to gain power and influence for people in the economy of this world.
God's harsh words against the structures that existed in the days of Isaiah, Hosea, Micah and Amos are not due to a HATRED of the structures, but a LOVE of them.
Hosea redeems his wife BECAUSE she is his wife
Micha keeps coming back to hope to a future of rituals with heart, not a future without them
Isaiah offers proclamations of a nation that trusts in God, rather then a world free of nations
Amos holds onto the promises of the covenant with Israel, not an undefined affection
All of these things are not being free from religion and structure, but actually receiving freedom from the structures themselves
Yes SYSTEMS FAIL but the bible points to a redemption and resurrection of religion rather then ruining and ravishing them.