God freely permitted golden statues to be made of angels and animals, but it was forbidden to make images of god, because god did not yet exist in any physical form.
In exodus 32, the children of Israel used some of their egyptian gold to make a statue of a golden calf, to worship as god. But god has never taken the form of a cow, so this statue was a lie.
Thus, the Israelites were guilty of the sin of idolatry. Four chapters later, in exodus 36, the children of israel use their Egyptian gold to build a place to worship god. They build golden statues of angels (cherubim), and they weave numerous images of angels into the fabric which was hung in the tabernacle. God was pleased with their work.