Then the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘You have seen that I have talked with 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.'” (Exodus 20:22-23)
Israel saw and heard for themselves what God said to them, meaning that they did not receive secondhand information. Because they were witnesses to these things, they became responsible for what they saw and what they heard. Thus we conclude that with information and knowledge comes the responsibility to act upon that knowledge. They couldn’t go against what they had borne witness to without betraying the truth. In a nutshell, for Israel, the matter boiled down to “Who will you serve?” and how it is to be done.
Had it not been for the encounter at Sinai and having first hand experience with the Almighty, it is conceivable that the people of Israel could have been deceived into thinking that the God of Israel was just another god, instead of the only God. Thus He reminded them that, in service to Him, they were not to make anything of silver or gold that would be considered as a competing god. Not only that, but they were not to fashion anything that was to serve as some type of representation of the true God. This is very important to consider in light of what happened later with the Golden Calf.
In short, there is nothing that compete with the authority and power of the Almighty and, therefore, He cannot and should not be represented by an inanimate object fashioned by the hands of man, even when done with the best of intentions. There is a proper way to worship Him and, those who are His witnesses have the responsibility to share that with others. Without the reliability of first-hand information, anyone can easily be deceived, and frankly, many have. Which is why it is important that we, as followers of Messiah, fulfill our mission as His witnesses and present the truth to this world. It is our responsibility to bear His image in our lives to those in darkness that they may, too, come into the light.
Blessings and Shalom,