Ez. 3:1-4:5, 24-5:1
In order to worship God, it was necessary to rebuild the altar for offering burnt sacrifices. The seventh month was a time that three holy days were celebrated. That was accomplished even as they feared the people that were already there. A few months later, Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the high priest led the people in laying the foundation for the new temple of the Lord. That was a time of mixed emotions for them. They celebrated the progress of being reestablished as a nation, but the older men mourned the loss of what had been. It would not be as large and elaborate as Solomon’s temple had been. The temple was God’s dwelling place and was also the central point of Judah’s identification.
Major construction projects sometimes meet with major problems. The people (Samaritans) who had remained in the land and others who had been sent there by the Assyrians offered to “build with you, for we seek your God as you do…” Zerubbabel and Jeshua refused their help, stating that they would build it alone as Cyrus had commanded. From that point onward, the temple construction was discouraged and hindered until it was finally discontinued. The prophets, Haggai and Zechariah were called upon to encourage the people to resume rebuilding the temple.