Right near the top of the Ten Commandments, God says you shall not make an image of anything on earth or anything in heaven. (And you shouldn’t worship those images, either.) That would mean you had become corrupt. God’s law says not to make any idols or any metal gods. That would definitely mean you had become corrupt (at least if you made them in the form of something God had forbidden). If you do that, God will get angry, and soon everyone in your land will die.
According to the prophets, idols and the people who make them are worthless. Those people are sinning, and they will all be disgraced. There is shame and scorn and terror and destruction in store for them. God will punish people because of the lifeless forms of their images. And images doesn’t just mean idols. God also thinks wall paintings of certain kinds of animals are wicked and detestable. God gets so angry over images people have made, he feels the need to destroy entire cities.
Joshua mentions that the Israelites were already worshipping idols back when they were slaves in Egypt. And rather than deciding that this made them evil people who didn’t deserve to live, God performed miracle after miracle in an elaborate effort to rescue those pagans and give them a land of their own. He didn’t even mention their idolatry until later, so it must not have bothered him all that much.
God commanded Moses to make some things in the image of things on earth, like plants and a snake.
God also told Moses to make two cherubs out of gold. These cherubs were not only a graven image of something in heaven, but part of the ark of the covenant, which, just like other idols, was treated as a representation of a god and an object of worship. When Joshua bowed down to the ark, God rebuked him not for idolatry, but only because God didn’t happen to like what Joshua was asking for. Apparently God doesn’t have a problem with this particular idol.
The whole temple that God had Solomon build was a copy of something in heaven.
God himself has made images of something in heaven. He made man in his own image. And he made some people in the image of Jesus, who he had also made in his own image, as an exact representation. Everything God does is perfectly good, so we should follow his example and make our own images of God.
Be careful not to make an idol in the form of anything God has forbidden. Make sure you come up with a look for your idol that God didn’t think of.
Moses says anyone who makes an idol and sets it up in secret will be cursed. Why does he need to specify that it’s being done in secret? Is it fine to make idols, as long as you put them out in the open?