Chapter 15

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Babylon

 

Who is Babylon?

 

Babylon is the false religious system that mixes biblical truth with heathen customs and practices of ancient Babylon. According to Revelation 17 and 18, Babylon fits the description of a false religious system that:

Has world–wide political power—She “reigneth over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 17:18). See also Rev. 17:1,2,15; 18:3.

Has an alliance with “the beast”—“I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast” (Rev. 17:3). See also Rev. 17:7,8.

Has great economic power—“And the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance [power] of her delicacies” (Rev. 18:3). “The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble. And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men” (Rev. 18:12,13). “Thy merchants were the great men of the earth” (Rev. 18:23).

Glorifies herself and lives luxuriously—“How much she hath glorified herself and lived deliciously” (Rev. 18:7); “And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls” (Rev. 17:4). See also Rev. 18:3,9,14.

Is “full of abominations and filthiness” (Rev. 17:4)—“And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:5).

Is the persecutor of true believers—“And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17:6).

Is located on seven mountains—“The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth” (Rev. 17:9).

Makes “merchandise” of the “souls of men” (Rev. 18:12,13)—See also 2 Pet. 2:3,15; Jude 1:11.

Will eventually be hated and destroyed by ten kings—“These shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate” (Rev. 17:16).

Will be judged by God “double according to her works” (Rev. 18:6).

 

How do we know Babylon is a religious system?

 

The following four reasons indicate that Babylon is a religious system:

1. The mixing of true worship with idolatry and heathen religion is called whoredoms in the Bible. Babylon is referred to as “the mother of harlots” and “the great whore” because of her sin of spiritual fornication (Rev. 17:1,2,4,15,16; 18:3,9; 19:2). This was also the sin of Israel. She professed to serve God, but also followed heathen religion by doing “after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea” (Ezek. 23:15). God rebuked her by saying, “Thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen, and . . . thou art polluted with their idols” (Ezek. 23:30). See also Deut. 32:15–17; 2 Kings 9:22; Jer. 3:6–9; Hos. 4:12–19; 2 Tim. 3:1–6; 4:3,4; Rev. 2:14,20.

The name, “Mystery, Babylon the Great, mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:5), also suggests that Babylon is a religious system that gives birth to all the abominations that go with pagan religion, such as idolatry, witchcraft, astrology, and human sacrifices. “When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee” (Deut. 18:9–12). See also Deut. 29:17,18; 1 Kings 14:24; 2 Kings 16:3,4; 21:2–11; 2 Chr. 28:2–4; Isa. 47:12,13; Ezek. 16:22–58; 18:12.

The apostles warned against “abominable idolatries” (1 Pet. 4:3) and showed that they are connected with devil worship: “What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? but I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (1 Cor. 10:19,20). See also Lev. 17:7; Deut. 32:16,17; 2 Chr. 11:15; Psa. 106:36,37; Rev. 9:20.

2. In Babylon is “found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth” (Rev. 18:24). Religious sources often initiated persecution of believers in the New Testament (John 18:3; Acts 4:1,2; 5:17,18; 6:9–13; 9:13,14; 13:50).

3. The description of Babylon in the Book of Revelation corresponds in detail with the description of ancient Babylon in the Old Testament. The comparison in the following chart shows that Babylon, the amassing world church of the end–time, has her roots in the religion of ancient Babylon.

 

 

The Religion of Ancient Babylon
Old Testament

Babylon , the Amassing World Church
Revelation 17 and 18

 

 

Dwellest upon many waters—Jer. 51:13.

Sitteth upon many waters. . . . the peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues—Rev. 17:1,15.

 

 

Shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world—Isa. 23:17.

The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her—Rev. 18:3.

 

 

Babylon hath been a golden cup— Jer. 51:7.

Having a golden cup—Rev. 17:4.

 

 

The whoredoms of the well–favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts—Nah. 3:4.

Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth— Rev. 17:5. Full of abominations and filthiness— Rev. 17:4.

 

 

I shall be a lady forever. . . . I shall not sit as a widow—Isa. 47:7,8.

I sit as a queen, and am no widow— Rev. 18:7.

 

 

Babylon is fallen . . . and all the graven images of her gods—Isa. 21:9. Babylon . . . the nations have drunken of her wine—Jer. 51:7.

Babylon is fallen . . . because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication—Rev. 14:8; 18:2.

 

 

For the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments—Isa. 47:9.

By thy sorceries were all nations deceived—Rev. 18:23.

 

 

Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall—Jer. 51:49.

In her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth—Rev. 18:24.

 

 

My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul. . . . I will do judgment upon the graven images of Babylon— Jer. 51:45,47.

Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins—Rev. 18:4.

What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?—2 Cor. 6:16.

 

 

4. The biblical description of Babylon, the false church, is the opposite of the biblical description of the true Church of Jesus Christ.

• The false church is called a harlot (Rev. 17:5); the true Church is called faithful (Rev. 17:14).

• The false church has a name written on her forehead, “Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:5); the true Church has the name of God on her forehead (Rev. 3:12; 22:4).

• The false church is referred to as Babylon (Rev. 18:21); the true Church is referred to as the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2).

• The false church drinks “a golden cup . . . full of abominations and filthiness” (Rev. 17:4), which is “the cup of devils” (1 Cor. 10:21); the Church of Jesus Christ drinks the cup of suffering for His name’s sake (Matt. 20:22), which is “the cup of the Lord” (1 Cor. 10:21).

• The false church glorifies herself (Rev. 18:7); the true Church glorifies the Lord (Rev. 15:4).

• The false church lives luxuriously (Rev. 18:7); the true Church lives as “strangers and pilgrims,” looking for a heavenly city (Heb. 11:13–16).

• The false church (the harlot) is arrayed in scarlet, which can represent pomp, power, and royalty as well as sin, bloodguiltness, and satanism (Rev. 17:4; 18:24; 12:3; Isa. 1:18); the true Church (a chaste virgin) is arrayed in “fine linen, clean and white,” which speaks of purity and righteousness (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:8).

• The false church will be judged by God and drink the “wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Rev. 16:19); the true Church will be blessed and drink the “fruit of the vine” with Christ in His kingdom (Matt. 26:29).

 

 

Do the gospels and epistles allude to Babylon?

 

Yes, very definitely! Consider how the following verses about false religionists relate to that which is written of Babylon in the Book of Revelation:

Persecuting and killing the righteous.

The gospels—Jesus told false religionists, “Ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. . . . I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar” (Matt. 23:31,34,35).

The Revelation—“And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth” (Rev. 18:24).

Deceiving all nations.

The gospels and epistles—“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:11). “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats” (1 Tim. 4:1–3). See also Matt. 24:24; 1 John 4:1.

The Revelation—“For by thy sorceries were all nations deceived” (Rev. 18:23).

Full of sin and abominations.

The gospels and epistles—The man of sin and false religionists are associated with sin and abominations. “The mystery of iniquity doth already work. . . . that Wicked be revealed” (2 Thess. 2:7,8). “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16). “False prophets. . . . shall utterly perish in their own corruption. . . . count it pleasure to riot in the day time. . . . having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin” (2 Pet. 2:1,12–14). Many of the scribes and Pharisees appeared righteous to men but were “full of extortion and excess. . . . full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. . . . [and] full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matt. 23:25,27,28).

The Revelation—“Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:5). “Having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornications” (Rev. 17:4).

 

What great part will Babylon have in the end–time?

 

The New Testament foretells that there will be great apostasy and the revelation of the man of sin before the coming of the Lord (2 Thess. 2:1–3). As already stated, the false church of “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:5) links with “the mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess. 2:7) and, thus, with “the man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:3). The world is seeing an unprecedented resurgence of sorcery (drugs), idolatry, enchantments, human sacrifices, humanism, astrology, and witchcraft, which stem from the religious system of Babylon. Through her, the nations will be deceived, will commit spiritual fornication, and will “drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Rev. 18:23; 17:2; 14:8). As prophesied, this wickedness will increase as we come closer to the end (Matt. 24:12; Rev. 9:20,21; 16:13–16,19).

The association between Babylon and the beast (the man of sin) is also seen in Revelation 17:3: “I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” See also verses 7 to 11. This description of the beast fits that given in Revelation 13:1.

Through lying wonders, the false religion of Babylon will have a big part in deceiving the peoples of the earth into making and worshiping an image of the beast and into receiving his mark (Rev. 13:12–16). In fact, Scripture reveals a definite parallel between “the beast” and “ Babylon”:

 

• Both are wicked (one is “the man of sin” and the other “the mother of harlots”).

• Both martyr the saints (Rev. 13:7,15; 17:6; 18:24).

• Both are blasphemous (Rev. 13:5; 17:3).

• Both have power over all the nations (Rev. 13:7; 17:2; 18:3,9).

• Both deceive by spirits of devils (Rev. 16:13,14; 18:23).

• Both are self–exalted (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 18:7; Jer. 51:53).

• Both perform lying wonders (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:13,14).

• Both are idolatrous (Rev. 13:15; Isa. 21:9; Jer. 51:47,52).

• Both cause the nations to drink the wine of the wrath of God (Rev. 14:8–10).

• Both will be destroyed when Jesus comes (2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 16:19).

 

What is the relevance of the ecumenical movement to Babylon?

 

There is an interesting parallel between Babylon, which represents a corrupt, worldwide religious system, and the ecumenical movement—namely that ecumenism, at its heart, attempts to create a worldwide or universal church out of the various denominations. Many sincere people mistakenly believe that Jesus prayed for all churches to be one.

 

What did Jesus mean when He prayed “that they all may be one” (John 17:21)?

 

Jesus prayed for His followers to be one with those who would yet believe on Him, but not for all churches to be one. In John 17, Jesus prayed for His followers, then for those who would believe on Him as a result of their preaching. “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me. . . . Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one” (vs. 9,20,21). Clearly, Jesus prayed for two groups to be one: His followers and their future converts.

Consider five additional reasons why we know that Jesus never prayed for all churches to be one:

1. The Lord Jesus commanded separation between His Church, the spotless Bride (Eph. 5:27), and the false church, “ Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots” (Rev. 17:5). He clearly commanded believers not to be one with her, but to “come out of her” (Rev. 18:4).

2. Uniting with false churches will cause greater apostasy and deception in the world: “Know ye not that a little leaven [of sin or false doctrine] leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9).

3. Paul warned believers not to unite with those who preach “another gospel” (Gal. 1:7–9). True Christian fellowship and unity must be based on the Word of God, not the traditions of men that make “the word of God of none effect” (Mark 7:13). “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). John wrote, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (2 John 1:9,10).

4. Jesus Himself predicted division: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two and two against three” (Luke 12:51,52). “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). The Word of God is described as a sword that divides: “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Therefore, whenever truth is preached, there will be division between those who love the truth and those who hold to the traditions of men and false doctrines (John 6:66–68; 7:43; 9:16; 10:19; Acts 14:4; 23:6,7).

5. Jesus condemned religious hypocrites and warned His followers to “beware” of them (Luke 12:1) and to “let them alone” (Matt. 15:14). Never once did He pray for His own to be one with worldly church members who resist the truth, nor did He try to unite the two together. But He prayed for His followers to be one with those who would believe on Him through their preaching.

 

What is the scriptural basis of Christian unity?

 

True Christian unity can occur only among:

1. Members of “the same body,” which is the body of Christ—the true Church (Eph. 3:6) See also Rom. 12:5. Not all church members are part of the body of Christ; some are the children of Satan because they will not come to Christ in repentance and faith. (Compare Matt. 21:31,32 and John 5:40–43 with 8:44–47.) See also John 1:12,13; Rom. 8:16; Titus 1:16.

2. Believers who realize that Jesus Christ is the only “head of the body, the church” and that “in all things” He must have “the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). He is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality” (1 Tim. 6:15,16). Ephesians 4:5 states, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” The Bible teaches that “one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ” (Matt. 23:8–10). The Bible also says, “holy and reverend is his name” (Psa. 111:9). See also Luke 22:24–27; John 3:30.

Jesus is the only Savior (Acts 4:12), the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:4,5), and the only door by which we may enter and be saved (John 10:9). Jesus alone is sinless (Heb. 7:25,26). He alone died to bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18) and has the power to redeem us with His precious blood (1 Pet. 1:18,19; Heb. 4:14–16; 9:12–14). Jesus alone is exalted by God to give repentance and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:30,31; Matt. 9:6). “By him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). Jesus alone is the Author (Heb. 5:9) and the Captain (Heb. 2:10) of our salvation. He declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6) and invites us to come directly to Him with our burden of sin. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). “If we confess our sins [to Jesus], he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Only Jesus can give repentance, cleansing, healing, deliverance from the power of sin, and peace (Luke 4:18; 7:48,50; 18:13,14).

3. Believers who “all speak the same thing” (1 Cor. 1:10), namely scriptural doctrine, not “fables” (2 Tim. 4:2–4), or “the traditions of men” (Mark 7:8–13; Col. 2:8). Paul, with reference to “the unity of the faith,” speaks of coming into “the knowledge of the Son of God,” which implies a correct doctrinal understanding of who Christ is and what He has done (Eph. 4:13). See also Acts 2:42; Gal. 1:8,9; Col. 1:23,25–28; 2 Tim. 1:13; 3:16; Titus chapter 2.

4. Believers who are willing to be led into all truth by “the same anointing”—the Holy Spirit: “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (1 John 2:26,27). Some people want unity of the Spirit without unity of doctrine, but Jesus tells us that “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

5. Believers who “walk by the same rule” and who “mind the same thing” (Phil. 3:16)—the pattern set by Jesus Christ and the apostles. Paul exhorts believers to “be perfectly joined together in the same mind” (the mind of Christ) and in “the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 2:3–8). Scripture urges us to walk “in the same spirit” and “in the same steps” (2 Cor. 12:18). All these verses imply that there will be fellowship among believers who walk in the light (1 John 1:3,7), who are pure in heart (2 Tim. 2:22; Psa. 111:1), who fear God (Psa. 61:5; 89:7), and who keep His commandments (1 John 5:2,3).

6. Believers who have “the same spirit of faith” (2 Cor. 4:13).

7. Believers who are willing suffer “the same afflictions” for Christ’s sake (1 Pet. 5:9).

8. Believers who have “the same care one for another” (1 Cor. 12:25). They have “the same purpose” of knowing about and of comforting the saints (Eph. 6:22; Col. 4:8).

9. Believers who have the same “hope” (Eph. 4:4) and are heirs of the same “promise” or “inheritance” (Heb. 11:9; Col. 1:12). Our hope is “the glorious appearing” of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13) and our inheritance is reserved in heaven (1 Pet. 1:4).

In summary, true Christian unity must be based on biblical repentance, exalting only the Lord Jesus Christ, being taught by the Spirit of Truth, receiving and abiding in pure doctrine, having living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, suffering affliction for His name’s sake, caring for one another, and having the same hope of the Second Coming when true believers will receive their eternal inheritance.

 

Why will Babylon be destroyed?

 

She will be destroyed because “her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” (Rev. 18:5). Babylon has “a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” (Rev. 17:4), which include the following:

• hypocrisy (Rev. 17:4)

• spiritual fornication (Rev. 14:8; 17:1,2,3,15; 18:3,9; 19:2)

• idolatry (Isa. 21:9; Jer. 50:2,38; 51:17,47,52)

• magic, witchcraft, and sorceries (Isa. 47:9,12,13; Dan. 2:1,2; Rev. 18:23)

• covetousness (Jer. 51:13; Rev. 18:11–13)

• enslaving and making merchandise of the souls of men (2 Pet. 2:3; Rev. 18:13)

• oppression (Isa. 14:4)

• cruelty and destructiveness (Isa. 47:5,6; Jer. 51:24,25)

• pride and arrogance (Isa. 14:13,14; 47:8,10; Jer. 50:29–32; Rev. 18:7)

• the martyrdom of the saints (Rev. 17:6; 18:24)

• causing “all nations” to “drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Rev. 14:8; 17:2; 18:3)

 

 

When will Babylon be destroyed?

 

Babylon will be destroyed on the Day of the Lord (Isa. 13:6,19), when the seventh and last vial is poured forth at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 16:17–19).

 

How will Babylon be destroyed?

 

The false system of Babylon with “a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness” (Rev. 17:4) will receive from the Lord “the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Rev. 16:19). The Lord God who is strong will judge her and avenge “the blood of his servants at her hand” (Rev. 18:8; 19:2).

Suddenly, in one hour (Jer. 51:8; Rev. 18:10,17), she will fall in “a great earthquake” (Rev. 16:18,19), be “utterly burned by fire” (Rev. 18:8,18) even as Sodom and Gomorrah (Isa. 13:19; Jer. 50:40), and be violently “thrown down” to “be found no more at all” (Rev. 18:21).

In that day, the “holy apostles and prophets” and “much people in heaven” will rejoice saying, “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever” (Rev. 18:20; 19:1–3).

In conclusion, just as God warned Lot and his family to escape for their lives before He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone, so He repeatedly warns His people to come out of the false religious system of Babylon:

“Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans” (Isa. 48:20).

“Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord” (Isa. 52:11).

“Remove out of the midst of Babylon” (Jer. 50:8).

“Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence” (Jer. 51:6).

“Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon” (Zech. 2:7).

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:14–18).

“Come out of her [ Babylon], my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).
 
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