Correlation is defined as a degree to which two or more attributes or measurements on the same group of elements show a tendency to vary together. There is a mutual relationship or parallelism. In correlation one attribute does not cause the other. But, they vary together. A simple example would be, as we grow our hand our feet grow, too. Our hands do not make our feet grow; neither do our feet make our hand grow. What causes one to grow makes the other one grow also.
In most large cities the amount of crime increases in the summer. So, do the amount of ice-cream sales. One could deduce that ice-cream causes crime to increase, or vice versa. However, we know that is not true. Hot weather encourages people to come outside. This would mean that would be perpetrators and assailants and their victims, would all be out. Making it easier to find a target and or become one. Ice cream is refreshing in the summer heat.
When we read the Bible we see God rebuking the Israelites for idolatry and for immoral and unethical behavior. We could easily assume that either idolatry causes this ungodly behavior or vice versa. But, in reality, these two practices are correlated. When you see the one you will see the other. And, both are caused by a common factor: turning our hearts from God. We see this in Micah 6.
Micah 6:6 Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
Micah 6:7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
The Lord tells them what He does not want and what He wants. The people had yet to get it, by the time of the prophet Isaiah and Jeremiah. Similar warning and rebukes are found in Isaiah 1: 11 – 15; 58: 4-7; Jeremiah 7: 3 – 10. Again, where there was idol worship, there was oppression and abuse of the fellow countrymen. If you identify the one, the other one is present. They are correlated. They are caused by the same factor. Ellen White says about this,
In Isaiah's day the spiritual understanding of mankind was dark through misapprehension of God. Long had Satan sought to lead men to look upon their Creator as the author of sin and suffering and death. Those, whom he had thus deceived, imagined that God was hard and exacting. They regarded Him as watching to denounce and condemn, unwilling to receive the sinner so long as there was a legal excuse for not helping him. The law of love by which heaven is ruled had been misrepresented by the archdeceiver as a restriction upon men's happiness, a burdensome yoke from which they should be glad to escape. He declared that its precepts could not be obeyed and that the penalties of transgression were bestowed arbitrarily.
In losing sight of the true character of Jehovah, the Israelites were without excuse. Often had God revealed Himself to them as one "full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth." Psalm 86:15. "When Israel was a child," He testified, "then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt." Hosea 11:1. (PK 311 – 312)
Now, if both are caused by the same factor, then the cure is the same: turning our hearts toward God. God wanted them to believe that He was indeed a loving God who had their best interest at heart. He wanted them to believe that He indeed wanted their fellowship. He tells them through the prophet Isaiah,
Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
God's intention with them was for good, not evil. He wanted to take all iniquity from them. He said through Ezekiel,
Ezekiel 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
When there is oppression and abuse among us there is also idolatry. When there is immorality and unethical behavior among us there is also idolatry. Many think that as long as you are "nice," it does not matter who and how you worship. Others think that as long as you worship the right being in the right way, it does not matter how you behave. But, God is saying that both issues are a problem. And, where one is the other will be also. Both issues will always be present. Both issues have the same cause. Therefore, both issues have the same cure. What worked for the Israelites will also work for us. Will we answer his call, and take the cure from Him?