(3) And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
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This verse provides a succinct yet broad biblical definition. We tend to think of eternal life as simply endless life when it is not. Jesus' definition of eternal life is "knowing God." We could say it is understanding the way God lives or that the quality of life that God lives is eternal life. He does not live as a human lives, but He lives on the God-plane. We must learn to live as He lives, to think as He does, to act as He does, to write His image on our minds.
God has set the Sabbath apart so we can know Him, that is, so we can know what eternal life is and live it. Knowing Him is eternal life. Another way to put it is that eternal life is being intimate with Him. He is not intimate with people who rebel against Him nor those who, on the Sabbath day, have their minds on everything else but Him and His way of life. Such people talk about everything else except the things that concern Him and our relationship with Him. Using the metaphor of a courting couple, we cannot come to know Him by going out on a date with Him and then not paying any attention to Him.
The proper observance of the Sabbath is given to humanity so that we might come to know God better on this day than is possible on any other day of the week. He provides an entire twenty-four hours to spend with Him. It is no wonder that He became upset with Israel because they ignored what He wanted from them on the Sabbath. They spent precious little time with Him. They failed to dig into His Word and so failed to discuss His message, His attitudes, His character, His purpose. Their minds were on everything else but Him.
We know that, if we went out with someone of the opposite sex, with whom we expected to have an enjoyable time, and that person paid attention to everybody else except us, we would be frustrated and angry. We would never want to go out with that person again. That is the issue. Eternal life describes the way God lives, and the Sabbath is set apart so that we can come to know Him and become more intimate with Him.
People spend an untold number of years preparing to earn a living in this world. Doctors spend four years at college then study more years at medical school and during their internship. It might take eight, ten, or twelve years for them to prepare a doctor to be successful.
By contrast, God commands us to set aside just one day each week to help us prepare for living endlessly in the highest quality - as He does.
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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