In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day. Neh 13:15-19
Why is it so important to God that His people, which includes believers in Yeshua by the way, honor as holy the things that He has declared are holy, and not profane them by making them common or not set apart?
None of the false gods of the nations cared if their worshipers worshiped other idols besides them. But the LORD is holy and His worship is holy and set apart, thus men profane His worship when they add idolatry to His worship. His name is holy and set apart, thus men profane His name when they swear an oath by His name and do not perform it. His tithe is holy and set apart, thus men profane His tithe when they do not separate it to Him as He has commanded. His priest and Levite are holy and set apart. The place of His presence is holy and set apart. And His appointed times, or moedim, the first of which is the Sabbath, are holy and set apart, thus men profane them when they treat them as a common day.
We must understand that before man ever sinned, the LORD was holy. His worship was holy, His name was holy, the place of His presence was holy. He set aside the seventh day to bless it for a day of rest, before Adam ever sinned in the Garden (Gen 2:1-3). The Sabbath day is as He is, holy and set apart because that is its nature from the beginning. It does not have anything to do with us or our sin.
Sabbath rest is a prophetic picture of the perfection and unspoilt happiness of the Garden of Eden, of man dwelling in unity with God. When Adam sinned, his consequence was painful toil, labor, to provide for his material needs by the sweat of his brow (Gen 3:17-19). Life would no longer be easy as it was in the Garden. The new reality was battling thorns and thistles. God is so gracious, however, that even before the painful toil became our lot, He set aside a day of rest from painful toil. A respite from the consequences of sin.
So Sabbath rest is a prophetic picture of the gospel of grace. What we earned for ourselves by sin, is painful toil; what God provided for us by grace, that we did not earn, was rest. Ease of life.
There is another way in which Sabbath rest prophesies. Six days man shall labor and do his work, but the seventh day is a day of rest to the LORD our God (Exo 20:8-11). It just so happens, that four millennia passed from Adam to the crucifixion of Messiah Yeshua, and two more millennia have passed from Messiah Yeshua to today. So for six millennia, man has labored under the dominion of sin. The seventh millennium, however, will be the millennial reign of the returned Messiah Yeshua as King of kings and Lord of lords. It will be a millennium of rest while the devil is locked up, from sin, from painful toil, from war, from tyranny under the kingdoms of this world.
When we rest on the seventh day, we not only bow our knee to the LORD our God, who has asked something of us, whether we understand all His wisdom in asking it or not; but we also, by our works, agree with His word that we are partakers of the gospel of grace. We acknowledge that it is YHVH Creator of heaven and earth who is our God, for in six days He created the earth and all that is in it, and rested on the seventh, and blessed it and set it apart. By our rest, we proclaim by our actions, in agreement with the word of God, that Messiah Yeshua is returning to rule and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.
When we refuse to engage in toil, such as treading out the wine presses, or bringing in sheaves, or conducting business transactions in order to provide for our needs on the seventh day, we acknowledge that we have been set free from sin and all its consequences. When we do not bear burdens on the Sabbath day, we are prophetically acknowledging that we have exchanged the burden of painful toil and sin, for the yoke of Jesus Christ instead:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mat 11:28-30