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Blessed Is the One Who Reads This Prophecy

Worthy is the Lamb  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Text:
Blessed Is the One Who Reads This Prophecy
Text:
Theme: Blessed Is the One Who Reads This Prophecy
Theme: Blessed Is the One Who Reads This Prophecy
Date: 09/24/2017 File Name: Revelation_01.wpd ID Number:
Date: 09/24/2017 File Name: Revelation_01.wpd ID Number:
I wasn’t exactly sure I would get to preach this morning’s message considering the world was supposed to end yesterday. But, considering we are here this morning … I’m going to assume the world did not end. In fact, I was pretty sure I would have to preach this morning. Fakenews — especially about the end of the world — has been around for two millennia now. Here are a few of the more notable examples from among the hundreds of end-of-world predictions over the last two millennium:
I wasn’t exactly sure I would get to preach this morning’s message considering the world was supposed to end yesterday. But, considering we are here this morning … I’m going to assume the world did not end. In fact, I was pretty sure I would have to preach this morning. Fakenews — especially about the end of the world — has been around for two millennia now. Here are a few of the more notable examples from among the hundreds of end-of-world predictions over the last two millennium:
The Jewish Essene sect of ascetics saw the Jewish revolt against the Romans in A.D. 66–70 in Judea as the final end-time battle which would bring about the arrival of the Messiah.
• Martin of Tours, a French bishop, believed that the world would end around A.D. 400, writing, “There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born.”
Martin of Tours, a French bishop, believed that the world would end around A.D. 400, writing, “There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born.”
• Pope Sylvester II predicted that January 1 of the year 1000 would usher in the millennium.
Pope Sylvester II predicted that January 1 of the year 1000 would usher in the millennium.
• Between 1346-1351 — a mere five years — almost 50% of Europe’s population died from the bubonic plague. Thousands of Christians believed this was the end of the world.
Between 1346-1351 — a mere five years — almost 50% of Europe’s population died from the bubonic plague. Thousands of Christians believed this was the end of the world.
• The Protestant reformer, Martin Luther thought the world would end by 1600, believing theat the invading Muslim Turks were the historical fulfillment for the last beast in , and would usher in the apocalypse. He believed the Papacy to be the Antichrist.
The Protestant reformer, Martin Luther thought the world would end by 1600, believing theat the invading Muslim Turks were the historical fulfillment for the last beast in , and would usher in the apocalypse. He believed the Papacy to be the Antichrist.
• In his Book of Prophecies (1501), Christopher Columbus predicted that the world would end in 1656.
In his Book of Prophecies (1501), Christopher Columbus predicted that the world would end in 1656.
• The Puritan minister Cotton Mather, one of the most respected Colonial preachers of his day, (and a man who should have known better) predicted the world would end in 1697. When the world did not end that year he revise the date to 1716. When the world did not end in 1716 he again revised the date to 1736. He died in 1728, and so was unable to revise it a fourth time when the third date also proved wrong.
The Puritan minister Cotton Mather, one of the most respected Colonial preachers of his day, (and a man who should have known better) predicted the world would end in 1697. When the world did not end that year he revise the date to 1716. When the world did not end in 1716 he again revised the date to 1736. He died in 1728, and so was unable to revise it a fourth time when the third date also proved wrong.
• John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was convinced the millennium would begin in 1836.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was convinced the millennium would begin in 1836.
• Charles Taze Russell predicted the return of Jesus would occur in 1874, and when it didn’t happen, he reinterpreted the prediction to say that Jesus had indeed returned ... in invisible form. (How convenient)
Charles Taze Russell predicted the return of Jesus would occur in 1874, and when it didn’t happen, he reinterpreted the prediction to say that Jesus had indeed returned ... in invisible form. (How convenient)
• Edgar C. Whisenant predicted in his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988 that the Rapture of the Church would occur between September 11–13, 1988. After his September predictions failed to come true, Whisenant revised his prediction date to October 3. When the rapture failed to occur on October 3 he once again revised his date to September 30, 1989. We are still here.
Edgar C. Whisenant predicted in his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988 that the Rapture of the Church would occur between September 11–13, 1988. After his September predictions failed to come true, Whisenant revised his prediction date to October 3. When the rapture failed to occur on October 3 he once again revised his date to September 30, 1989. We are still here.
• Just last year a group called End Times Prophecies announced the end of the world for July 29 2016 when the magnetic poles would shift, and President Obama would reveal himself to be the Antichrist. North is were it’s always been.
Just last year a group called End Times Prophecies announced the end of the world for July 29 2016 when the magnetic poles would shift, and President Obama would reveal himself to be the Antichrist. North is were it’s always been.
Christian doomsdayers have always been with us. If you have been watching the news — or cruising the Internet — you have probably run into the name David Meade. He is a research scientist, and author, who has “discovered a secret Bible code” predicting that “Planet X” a giant unknown planet will pass closely by Earth triggering volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis that will usher in the Apocalypse. (Steve, you’re our resident astronomer ... why haven’t you been warning us about this?) This was all to have happened yesterday. Any time someone begins a conversation with “I’ve discovered a secret Bible code predicting …” That’s a conversation you probably need to walk away from, and quickly.
Wikipedia lists almost 200 known end-time predictions. They all have one thing in common — they’ve all been wrong. And God laughs. Do I believe that the world as we know it will someday end with the return of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom? Yes, absolutely. But I also believe that trying to predict the date of that event is folly.
This morning we begin our journey through the Book of Revelation. Over the centuries, Revelation has been misunderstood, ignored, and neglected. This is a mistake. It’s a mistake because the author expressly tells us that there is a blessing in hearing it, and in reading it, and in taking it to heart. Is it a book of the Bible difficult to understand? Well, it’s certainly is not the easiest, but we neglect it to our spiritual detriment.
Without the book of Revelation there is no judgment of sin.
• Without the book of Revelation there is no story of how this world ends.
Without the book of Revelation there is no story of how this world ends.
• Without the book of Revelation there is no hope for the righteous.
Without the book of Revelation there is no hope for the righteous.
• Without the book of Revelation Christ never reigns, the kingdom is never established, and there’s never a summing up of all things in Christ.
Without the book of Revelation Christ never reigns, the kingdom is never established, and there’s never a summing up of all things in Christ.
• Without the book of Revelation we are left in the dark as to God’s redemptive conclusion for the world.
Without the book of Revelation we are left in the dark as to God’s redemptive conclusion for the world.
• Without the book of Revelation we are at the mercy of false teachers who say, “I have a concluding word from God about the end of the world.”
Without the book of Revelation we are at the mercy of false teachers who say, “I have a concluding word from God about the end of the world.”
Let’s begin our journey by opening our Bibles to Revelation chapter 1. “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (, NIV84)
t’s begin our journey by opening our Bibles to Revelation chapter 1. “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (, NIV84)

I. GOD’S REVELATION

1. the book of Revelation is our Lord’s message to his Church meant to encourage us in difficult days
difficult days
a. the message comes near the end of the first century
1) the apostle John, the author of this letter, is an old man, and the last of the original 12 apostles remaining alive
original 12 apostles remaining alive
b. the church is experiencing its first empire-wide persecution under the Roman Emperor Domitian
Emperor Domitian
1) even fellow Roman citizens did not think much of this particular Emperor
ILLUS. The Roman historian Pliny called Domitian “the beast from hell who sat in its den, licking blood.” Domitian was the first emperor to have himself officially titled in Rome as “God the Lord.” He insisted that other people hail his greatness with acclamations like “Lord of the earth,” “Invincible,” “Glory,” “Holiness,” and “Thou Alone.” Neither Jews nor Christians could give him such accolades and they died by the thousands.
den, licking blood.” Domitian was the first emperor to have himself officially titled in Rome as “God the Lord.” He insisted that other people hail his greatness with acclamations like “Lord of the earth,” “Invincible,” “Glory,” “Holiness,” and “Thou Alone.” Neither Jews nor Christians could give him such accolades and they died by the thousands.
2) it was under the rule of Domitian that the apostle John is banished to the island of Patmos where he eventually receives the visions of the book of Revelation
of Patmos where he eventually receives the visions of the book of Revelation
ILLUS. Visitors to the island of Patmos can still visit the cave where John supposedly received the visions that make up the book of Revelation.
supposedly received the visions that make up the book of Revelation.
2. the purpose of the book of Revelation is to comfort the militant Church in its struggle against the forces of evil
against the forces of evil
a. it is full of help and comfort for persecuted and suffering Christians
b. to us is given the assurance that ...
1) our tears are seen by the Father (7:17; 21:4)
2) our prayers are influential in world affairs (8:3, 4)
3) our death is precious in the Father’s sight
4) our final victory is assured (15:2)
5) our blood will be avenged (19:2)
6) our Christ lives and reigns for ever and for ever ... He governs the world in the interest of His Church ... He is coming again to take His people to Himself in ‘the marriage supper of the Lamb’ and to live with them for ever in a rejuvenated universe
interest of His Church ... He is coming again to take His people to Himself in ‘the marriage supper of the Lamb’ and to live with them for ever in a rejuvenated universe

A. IT’S AN INSPIRED REVELATION

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him ... ,” (, NIV84)
1. it’s given by Christ himself
a. some of the original manuscripts of this book have the title The Revelation of John or The Apocalypse of John
or The Apocalypse of John
1) this is simply wrong
2) John may have recorded the revelation, but it was revealed to him — the visions found in this book are not from John’s own imagination
found in this book are not from John’s own imagination
ILLUS. Good storytellers always amaze me. Consider J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. I know that creating great stories requires a lot of hard work, but it also involves a lot of imagination. Tolkien created an entire world populated with men, and hobbits, and elves in a variety of other creatures. Tolkien not only conjured up Middle Earth from his imagination, he also created entire languages for his characters to speak. Here was a guy, who in his spare time, constructed the grammar and vocabulary of at least fifteen languages and dialects for his Lord of the Ring characters. I am equally amazed at J. K. Rowling who created the world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts. These are examples of authors who create great stories from the recesses of their minds and imaginations.
the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. I know that creating great stories requires a lot of hard work, but it also involves a lot of imagination. Tolkien created an entire world populated with men, and hobbits, and elves in a variety of other creatures. Tolkien not only conjured up Middle Earth from his imagination, he also created entire languages for his characters to speak. Here was a guy, who in his spare time, constructed the grammar and vocabulary of at least fifteen languages and dialects for his Lord of the Ring characters. I am equally amazed at J. K. Rowling who created the world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts. These are examples of authors who create great stories from the recesses of their minds and imaginations.
b. the Bible is not from the imaginations of the men
“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (, NIV84)
1) the verb “carried along” is used to describe how the wind blows a sailing ship across the waters
across the waters
2) for Peter, it was as if the writers of Scripture raised their spiritual sails and allowed the Spirit to fill them with His powerful breath of revelation as they penned its divine words
allowed the Spirit to fill them with His powerful breath of revelation as they penned its divine words
2. vs. 1 of Revelation begins, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, …”
a. John wants the reader to understand at the outset that the same “Jesus Christ” who became incarnate, who revealed himself in human flesh, who died on the cross, and who rose again is the one who mediates the visions in this book
who became incarnate, who revealed himself in human flesh, who died on the cross, and who rose again is the one who mediates the visions in this book
b. Christians must never forget that, though the Bible is written by men, that God is its author
author
1) the Bible is not a compilation of stories giving us men’s view of what they think God is like, but God revealing to us His character and His purpose for creation
God is like, but God revealing to us His character and His purpose for creation
2) the ultimate revelation of God’s character and purpose is found in the person of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (, NIV84)
3. the doctrine of inspiration, simply put, is that God the Father — spoke through the Holy Spirit — He “breathed out” (theopneustos) the Scriptures into the minds of those authors who wrote it
Holy Spirit — He “breathed out” (theopneustos) the Scriptures into the minds of those authors who wrote it
a. Scriptures are a divine product
4. what the book reveals is God’s sovereign control of the future, and how he is going to bring an end to the seemingly successful forces of evil in this present age
to bring an end to the seemingly successful forces of evil in this present age

B. IT’S AN INTIMATE REVELATION

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants ... ” (, NIV84)
1. this Revelation is for God's people, His Elect .... His servants
2. this book is not written for a non-believer
a. the things that are in here are foolishness to the natural man
3. if you cannot understand Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, how can you understand Jesus as the righteous judge of the world who comes to condemn sin, separate the goats from the sheep, and cast unrepentant sinners into the Lake of Fire?
world, how can you understand Jesus as the righteous judge of the world who comes to condemn sin, separate the goats from the sheep, and cast unrepentant sinners into the Lake of Fire?
a. this book is a word from God to His servants
ILLUS. Carl F. H. Henry, one of the great Baptist theologians of our era, wrote this about God’s revelation. “Christians need always to remember this: Revelation is God’s gracious self-disclosure, in which he lovingly forfeits his own personal privacy so that His sinful creatures might know Him.”
about God’s revelation. “Christians need always to remember this: Revelation is God’s gracious self-disclosure, in which he lovingly forfeits his own personal privacy so that His sinful creatures might know Him.”
b. there is an intimacy in the book of Revelation, in that, God says, this message is for you ... I don’t want you to be in the dark about your future
you ... I don’t want you to be in the dark about your future

C. IT’S AN INFORMATIVE REVELATION

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. ... “ (, NIV84)
1. it’s a revelation meant to show his servants what must soon take place
a. chapter 4 through the end of the book contains a series of visions to show the Church what will be happening in the days ahead
Church what will be happening in the days ahead
2. the word revelation is a translation of the Greek word apocalypses
a. the word means to reveal, or to become visible
b. God does not want his people to be in the dark when it comes to his ultimate plan for our lives in this world
for our lives in this world
3. to that end God has chosen to reveal to his church the broad panorama of end time events
events
a. the phrase he made known in vs. 1 is a single verb in the original language and means signified and is translated “to show” in most modern versions of the Bible
means signified and is translated “to show” in most modern versions of the Bible
ILLUS. The apostle literally sees a series of visions passed before him. It’s God’s supernatural version of a PowerPoint presentation. Slide by slide, as scene after scene goes by the Apostle records what he sees, and the conversations he hears.
supernatural version of a PowerPoint presentation. Slide by slide, as scene after scene goes by the Apostle records what he sees, and the conversations he hears.
“I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see ... ” (, NIV84)
4. God is going to use signs, symbols, names, numbers, colors, and creatures to give us a glimpse of future events
a glimpse of future events
a. our goal, of course, will be attempting to figure out what all those items might be referring to
referring to
5. one of our first great challenges is to discern what the apostle means when he writes these things must soon take place
these things must soon take place
a. there are those believers who take the phrase at face value, and assume that all that Revelation refers to has already taken place
that Revelation refers to has already taken place
1) this is known as the Preterist Approach to interpreting the book, and concludes that all of these visions refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the socio/political events experienced by the churches of the first century
that all of these visions refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the socio/political events experienced by the churches of the first century
b. in this series of messages, I will be taking the Futuristic Approach to the interpretation of the book — that is, that everything that happens in chapter 4 onward has yet to take place
interpretation of the book — that is, that everything that happens in chapter 4 onward has yet to take place
c. I will also be taking the Normative Approach to interpreting the book
1) a lot of believers, over the centuries, have tackled this book by allegorizing it — “Well, I know John says this, but he really means this.”
“Well, I know John says this, but he really means this.”
2) I’m not that smart — I believe the Bible says what it means, and means what it says, and that’s the approach I will take unless the Bible clearly tells us to take it otherwise
says, and that’s the approach I will take unless the Bible clearly tells us to take it otherwise
6. when the apostle writes that these visions must soon take place it means that they will soon take place
soon take place
a. the problem is our understanding of soon verses, God’s understanding of soon
b. the Apostle Peter helps us here
“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (, NIV84)
c. this passage tells us two things ...
1) 1st, we are not the only generation who has wondered why the delay
a) others before us have wondered, and some have even scoffed
2) 2nd, God views time differently than we do
a) we are time-oriented creatures ... God is not
d. have the events beginning in chapter 4 through the end of the book taken place?
1) No!
e. when will they commence?
1) Soon!
2) according to God’s time-table, we have been in the Last Days ever since Jesus ascended into heaven
ascended into heaven
7. Christ is revealing to his Church that the next great epoch in God’s redemptive history is imminent
is imminent

D . IT’S AN INSPIRATIONAL REVELATION

“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (, NIV84)
1. the three participles translated reads, hear, and heed are in the present tense, which means that we are to keep on reading, and to keep on hearing, and to keep on heading the words of this book
means that we are to keep on reading, and to keep on hearing, and to keep on heading the words of this book
a. reading, hearing, and obeying the truths taught in the book of Revelation (and in the rest of Scripture) are to be a way of life for believers
the rest of Scripture) are to be a way of life for believers
2. the words of this revelation are meant to inspire us, not to intimidate us
a. it’s words are meant to fill our heart awe and wonder
b. this book is God’s final word to his people – the culmination of divine revelation
c. its writing marked the completion of the canon of Scripture, and its scope encompasses the entire future sweep of redemptive history
encompasses the entire future sweep of redemptive history
3. that leads me to the second point

II. OUR RESPONSIBILITY

“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (, NIV84)
1. it’s a revelation we are to take to heart
a. it’s a revelation meant to inspire us as well as to instruct us
b. it’s a revelation meant to encourage us not to frighten us
c. it’s a revelation meant to inform us, not to fluster us
2. in form the book of Revelation is prophetic — it provides a broad panorama to the conclusion of God’s redemptive work in the universe, but in function the book of Revelation is pastoral
conclusion of God’s redemptive work in the universe, but in function the book of Revelation is pastoral
a. we should not get lost in the details, but try to see the big picture and keep in mind that John wrote this book to encourage believers who were going through persecution
mind that John wrote this book to encourage believers who were going through persecution
1) every generation of Christians has had its Antichrist and it’s Babylon, and the hope of the Lord’s return has kept those saints going when the going was tough
hope of the Lord’s return has kept those saints going when the going was tough
b. yes, it is a book speaking of the future — hope for tomorrow — but that hope for tomorrow is meant to give you strength for today
tomorrow is meant to give you strength for today
1) the book of Revelation is not primarily about satisfying our curiosity about the future, but comes from a pastor’s concerned for his people going through tough times
future, but comes from a pastor’s concerned for his people going through tough times
2) it’s meant to offer hope
3) it was written to the churches of Asia minor to encourage them of this central fact — Jesus Christ controls the course and the climax of history
— Jesus Christ controls the course and the climax of history
3. Revelation is the only book in the entire Bible that promises a blessing for those who hear it, who read it, and who head it
hear it, who read it, and who head it
a. blessed is he who reads, blessed is he who hears, blessed is he who takes to heart

III. APPLICATION

1. as I close out the first message from the book of Revelation the me give you three applications to take with you
applications to take with you

A. THE BOOK WAS WRITTEN TO GIVE UNSHAKABLE HOPE TO CHRISTIAN

1. it’s about a king who is already come, and who reigns right now
a. the question is, “Is Christ reigning in your life?”
2. as you read through the gospels, and the epistles you see Jesus portrayed as the suffering servant, who becomes the Savior of the world
suffering servant, who becomes the Savior of the world
3. when you read through the book of revelation, you see the other side of our Lord’s character
character
a. here he is Sovereign Lord who will judge the peoples of the earth according to righteousness
righteousness
b. Revelation completes the picture of who our Savior is, and reminds us that the world is ending on God’s terms and not ours
world is ending on God’s terms and not ours
a. that gives us hope

B. THE BOOK WAS WRITTEN TO ENCOURAGE UNWAVERING HOLINESS IN A SEDUCTIVE CULTURE

SEDUCTIVE CULTURE
1. it is filled with promises of blessing for the faithful
a. this book calls god’s people to faithful living in light of, and despite of the circumstances in which we find ourselves
circumstances in which we find ourselves
b. the book reminds us that “Babylon” is a seductive place, and like Vanity Fair in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, “Babylon” will always tempt us and seek to lure us away from our faith
Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, “Babylon” will always tempt us and seek to lure us away from our faith
2. a dogged pursuit of unwavering holiness is the only way to keep from being seduced

C. THE BOOK WAS WRITTEN TO REFUTE DECEPTION IN THE CHURCH

ILLUS. I found out Friday night, just before my final edit of this morning’s message that David Meade, who claimed the world was ending yesterday when a mysterious planet was to collide with Earth, was backtracking on the calamitous claim. Meade said the world won't end on Sept. 23 after all, but instead Saturday will only mark the beginning of a series of catastrophic events to occur over several weeks. In light of the last month, that’s not really much of a bold prediction. He told the Washington Post, “The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending.” That’s a claim every generation of believers since the Apostle can utter: “The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending.”
David Meade, who claimed the world was ending yesterday when a mysterious planet was to collide with Earth, was backtracking on the calamitous claim. Meade said the world won't end on Sept. 23 after all, but instead Saturday will only mark the beginning of a series of catastrophic events to occur over several weeks. In light of the last month, that’s not really much of a bold prediction. He told the Washington Post, “The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending.” That’s a claim every generation of believers since the Apostle can utter: “The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending.”
1. David Meade is just another in a long line of doomsayers who have been embarrassed by the Scriptures
by the Scriptures
a. he is a deceiver and he deserves to be ignored
2. BUT DO NOT IGNORE THIS BOOK!
“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”
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