So, the foundation of the temple has been laid and it seems like everything is set up for progress! Then the exiles encounter a couple of obstacles in the road. First, some of the people of the land offered to help with building the temple, but they did so because they didn't want it to be entirely dedicated to God. They wanted it to be open to compromises with other gods, just like the people of the land were. (vv. 1-3) They didn't mind a little bit of religion and worship. They just didn't want it to be too exclusive to Yahweh. Once they found out that Zerubbabel and the exiles wouldn't compromise, they started opposing the project openly.
Second, the opposition hired lawyers to petition the emperor to stop the work, by slandering the returned exiles and claiming that they really had a political motive for what they were doing. (vv. 11-16) They said, "Look at their past! They've always been trouble-makers." Sadly, the king listened and the work on the temple ceased for twenty years. It was a real set back.
As we consider this episode as an example of rebuilding a future, we must understand that these obstacles are still with us today. God calls you to a new beginning. Then a "friend" tells you that, "You don't want to be too crazy about this God thing." "Just a little religion will do." God calls you to a new beginning. Then a door closes on you because of a mistake from your past. Do you compromise? Do you give up? God is the One calling you to the work. Let Him finish it.