Exodus 20:22 says this — Then the LORD said to Moses, Speak in this way to the sons of Israel: “You have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven. You shall not make anything to be with Me — gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves.”
The LORD spoke from heaven to give the 10 commandments. This terrified the people who heard it. The LORD then told them by Moses to be impressed with the fact that God has spoken to them, and not to make idols.
My question is “How does the LORD speaking relate to not making idols?”
My supposal (proposed answer) is as follows:
We are to form our understanding about God and his will for our salvation from what he himself has told us in his word. We are not to be inventive when it comes to our theology. We are simply to receive and apply all that God as revealed in his word.
To do otherwise is to make “God” into an idol of our own devising.
The latter part of the text (quoted above) refers to gods of silver and gods or gold. The word “gods” in ancient Hebrew can also be translated “God”. The italicised section “anything to be” is the translator’s guess at how the words that appear in the text might be linked together.
My additional supposal is that the linking words might not be necessary. The LORD probably is saying “You shall not make with Me (out of Me) a God of silver or a God of gold.”
My reason for supposing this can be found in Deuteronomy 4:15-16: “Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb … lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image.”
The LORD was warning people against making the true God into an idol of their own imagination. People will do this when they do not give God’s word its due preeminence in their thinking. In Exodus 32, Aaron did precisely what the LORD had told Israel not to do. He made a gold calf and told people that this is the LORD who took them out of Egypt.
Our God is self-defined. He has given us his written word in the Bible. That alone is our standard. There we find all that God has revealed about himself and his will for our salvation.