Israel and Dispensationalism

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    Israel and Dispensationalism

    By Greg Loren Durand
    (1995)

    Many Christians believe that there are three separate bodies in the world today: the Church, Israel, and the Gentiles. The Bible, however, is clear that God has had only one people throughout redemptive history which He has adopted as His Church (as they are called in the New Testament), or as the people of God (as they are called in the Old Testament). The modern distinction that is made between the Christian Church and Israel is, by and large, the product of the Dispensational system which originated in the last century with J.N. Darby and C.I. Scofield. It is perpetuated today in the writings of Hal Lindsey, Dave Hunt, and in such evangelical movements as the Calvary Chapels. Dispensationalists center their interpretation of biblical prophecy around modern Israel and look forward to a time in the near future when the Church will be "raptured" out of the world and God will resume His historical dealings with the physical descendants of Abraham. Supposedly, with the advent of a world leader known as "Antichrist," the Jews will recognize Jesus as their Messiah and will repent of their rebellion and return to the worship of Yahweh. This, however, will not constitute their salvation in the Christian sense of the word, for the Jewish temple will then be rebuilt and the sacrificial system will be reinstated. At the end of a seven-year period commonly referred to as the "Great Tribulation," Jesus will return once again to earth and set up an earthly throne in Jerusalem. This is referred to as the "millennial reign" of Christ, for it is said to last one thousand years.

    Many would be shocked to hear that such an elaborate eschatological system has no basis whatsoever in the Scriptures (properly interpreted), and instead rests upon very questionable, and at times even heretical, presuppositions regarding redemptive history. First of all, there is not one verse that can be cited from the Bible that teaches that Jesus will sit upon an earthly throne in Jerusalem. Also, the teaching that this reign will be limited to one thousand years is drawn from a strained interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10 (the only biblical passage that even mentions a millennium). However, the gravest error of the Dispensational system is its underlying premise that God deals with Christians and the nation of Israel in completely different ways, and that Jews may be reconciled to God apart from the Gospel of Christ. Paul specifically addressed this alleged distinction when he wrote that "both Jews and Greeks [Gentiles]... are all under sin" (Romans 3:9). He went on to say:

    "Therefore by the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the Law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the Law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:20-24).

    Furthermore, in Romans 8:5, Paul separated mankind into two classes of people-- those "who live according to the flesh" (the unregenerate) and those who "live according to the Spirit" (the regenerate). Members of the former group are said to be "enmity against God" (verse 7), and therefore "cannot please God" (verse 8). The latter are those whom God had chosen to save "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4), and are pleasing to God solely on the basis of the fact that they have been reckoned by Him as being "in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). This same concept is seen in slightly different terms in Paul's distinction between those "in Adam" and those "in Christ" found in Romans 5:12-21 and I Corinthians 15:22.

    The point being made here is that there is no third class of mankind which are not included in Christ by divine predestination and spiritual regeneration (Romans 8:29-30), and yet enjoy His favor on the basis of nationality and their observance of the Law (Galatians 3:11). Scripture is very clear that those who are called "sons of God" have not been "born of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man," but have been born "of God" (John 1:13). The message of Jesus to those Jews who were relying upon their lineage for right standing with God was, "You must be born again" (John 3:3). As Paul wrote:

    "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism...." (Ephesians 4:4-5)

    In Galatians 3:26-29 and Romans 9:6-8, Paul denied that physical descent from Abraham and physical circumcision would save anyone, and stated that the true descendants of Abraham were those who "are Christ's" via spiritual regeneration. Consequently, we must reject the concept promoted by Dispensationalism that there are two separate people of God-- the Christian Church and the nation of Israel. The covenantal privilege that national Israel enjoyed as the chosen people of God was ended when the Jewish leaders "fill[ed] up... the measure of [their] fathers'guilt" (Matthew 23:32) by rejecting and crucifying their own Messiah. Jesus was very explicit in stating that the "house" of Israel was left "desolate" (Matthew 23:37-39), and that the Kingdom would be taken from the Jews as a people and given to another people (Matthew 8:10-12, 21:33-45, etc.).


    The Reformed view is that God "divorced" national Israel and "married" spiritual Israel, which is the Church made up of people "from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). Henceforth, the Church, not the nation of Israel, is referred to as the "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16), the "house of God" (Hebrews 10:21), "a holy temple" (Ephesians 2:21), the "new Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 21:2), and "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, [and] His own special people" (I Peter 2:9). Moreover, the Church is referred to by Scripture as "the bride, the Lamb's wife" (Revelation21:9), and "His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:23). Since there is no salvation apart from inclusion in Christ, Jews cannot and will not be saved unless they repent, believe the Gospel, and are baptized into the Church by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

    #2
    I've never seen a verse that even vaguely supports a pre-trib Rapture. I've never seen a verse that even vaguely makes a distinction between the Church and Israel.

    But, there are many verses that equate the Church with Israel. Ephesions 2 says Christians are citizens of Israel. Paul says Christians count as children of Abraham. The Bible refers to the Church as the "Israel of God." Even one of the favorite verses for Dispies to abuse equates the church with Israel: Rom 11:25b, " A partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in."

    The Old Testament says God divorced Israel, Jer 3:8. But, that was the carnal Israel, not the eternal Israel that is God's people.
    Last edited by Cornelius; 12-03-2015, 12:18 PM. Reason: corrected verse number
    Comment>

      #3
      Israel The Church
      Saints: Numbers 16:3 Deuteronomy 33:3 Saints: Ephesians 1:1 Romans 1:7
      Elect: Deuteronomy 7:6-7; 14:2 Elect: Col. 3:12; Titus 1:1
      Beloved: Deut. 7:7; 4:37 Beloved: Col. 3:12 1 Thess 1:4
      Called: Isaiah 41:9; 43:1 Called: Rom 1:6-7 1 Cor 1:2
      Church: Ps 89:5 Mic 2:5 Acts 7:78 Hebrews 2:12 Church: Eph 1:1 Acts 20:28
      Flock: Ezekiel 34 Ps 77:20 Flock: Luke 12:32 1 Peter 5:2
      Holy Nation: Exodus 19:5-6 Holy Nation: 1 Peter 2:9
      Kingdom of Priests: Exodus 19:5-6 Kingdom: of Priests 1 Peter 2:9
      Peculiar Treasure: Exodus 19:5-6 Peculiar Treasure: 1 Peter 2:9
      God's People: Hos 1:9-10 God's People: 1 Peter 2:10
      Holy People: Deut 7:6 Holy People: 1 Peter 1:15-16
      People of Inheritance: Deut 4:20 People of Inheritance: Eph 1:18
      God's Tabernacle in Israel: Lev 26:11 God's Tabernacle in Church: John 1:14
      God walks among them: Lev 26:12 God walks among them: 2 Cor 6:16-18
      Twelve Patriarchs Twelve Apostles
      Christ Married to them: Isa 54:5; Jer 3:14; Hos 2:19; Jer 6:2, 31:32 Christ married to them: Eph 5:22-23; 2 Corinthians 11:2
      Comment>

        #4
        Thank you William for those verses that show the OT saints and NT saints are treated as the same people. The only real difference between OT and NT saints is that the former looked forward to the coming of the Christ and the latter looks back and the coming of the Christ.

        I won't hold by breath for anyone to post verses showing that Israel and the Church are distinct. (Specially in a Dispensationalist sense, where after Christ, there is a distinction between Israel and the Church.)
        Comment>

          #5
          Originally posted by William View Post
          Christ Married to them: Isa 54:5; Jer 3:14; Hos 2:19; Jer 6:2, 31:32 Christ married to them: Eph 5:22-23; 2 Corinthians 11:2
          In the OT Israel is often called the wife of God and she was often unfaithful. In the NT the Church is called the bride of Christ and their wedding is still in the future.

          Let us rejoice and exult
          and give him the glory,
          for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
          and his Bride has made herself ready;
          it was granted her to clothe herself
          with fine linen, bright and pure”—
          for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
          (Revelation 19:7-8 ESV)


          The other items on your list show there are similarities between Israel and the Church but they don't prove they are identical. Chapters 9-11 of Romans show the present status of Israel. She has been temporarily set aside although individual Jews can be saved by becoming part of the church. A times is coming when Israel will be restored to its former position. Israel was promised territory on the earth; Christians are citizens of Heaven and so the Church must be taken out of the world by the rapture before the final restoration of Israel can take place.
          Clyde Herrin's Blog
          Comment>

            #6
            Hebrews 8 provides a strong argument for seeing the church as the recipient, and the fulfillment of the OT promises concerning Israel. In the context of speaking about the new covenant to which Christians belong, the author of Hebrews gives an extensive quotation from Jeremiah 31:31-34, in which he says, "The days will come, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah... This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" Hebrews 8:8-10. Here the author quotes the Lord's promises that he will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, and says that that is the new covenant that has now been made with the church. The new covenant is the covenant of which believers in the church are now members. It seems hard to avoid the conclusion that the author views the church as the true Israel of God in which the Old Testament promises to Israel find their fulfillment.

            In dispensationalism.... God has two distinct plans for the two different groups of people that he has redeemed: God's purposes and promises for Israel are for earthly blessings, and they will yet be fulfilled on this earth at some time in the future. On the other hand, God's purposes and promise for the church are for heavenly blessings, and those promises will be fulfilled in heaven. The distinction between the two different groups that God saves will especially be seen in the millennium, for at that time Israel will reign on earth as God's people and enjoy the fulfillment of OT promises, but the church will already have been taken up into heaven at the time of Christ's secret return for his saints "the rapture". On this view, the church did not begin until Pentecost (Acts 2). And it is not right to think of the OT believers together with the NT believers as constituting one church.

            Contrary to the classical dispensationalist circle is the progressive dispensationalist view... . they would not see the church as a parenthesis in God's plan but as the first step toward the establishment of the kingdom of God. On a progressive dispensationalist view, God does not have two separate purposes for Israel and the church, but a single purpose - the establishment of the kingdom of God - in which Israel and the church will both share. Progressive dispensationalist would see no distinction between Israel and the church in the future eternal state, for all will be part of the one people of God.

            Originally posted by theophilus View Post
            The other items on your list show there are similarities between Israel and the Church but they don't prove they are identical. Chapters 9-11 of Romans show the present status of Israel. She has been temporarily set aside although individual Jews can be saved by becoming part of the church. A times is coming when Israel will be restored to its former position. Israel was promised territory on the earth; Christians are citizens of Heaven and so the Church must be taken out of the world by the rapture before the final restoration of Israel can take place.
            A person may hold that there will be a large scale conversion of the Jewish people, yet that this conversion will only result in Jewish believers becoming part of the one true church of God - they will be grafted back into their own olive tree Romans 11:24.... Paul says, "not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants... . it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants Romans 9:6-8. Paul couldn't be more clearer that the true children of Israel are not the nation of Israel by physical descent from Abraham but those who have believed in Christ. Those who truly believe in Christ are now the ones who have the privilege of being called "my people" by the Lord Romans 9:25; Hos. 2:23; therefore the church is now God's chosen people. And lets not forget about Galatians 3:29 and Phil. 3:3... far from thinking the church as a separate group from the Jewish people, Paul writes to Gentile believers at Ephesus telling them that they were formerly "alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and the strangers to the covenants of promise" Ephesians 2:12, but that now they have been "brought near in the blood of Christ" Ephesians 2:13. And when the Gentiles were brought into the church, Jews and Gentiles were united into one new body. Paul says that God "has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility... that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross" Ephesians 2:14-16. Therefore Paul can say that Gentiles are "fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the cornerstone" Ephesians 2:19-20. "The Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body" Ephesians 3:6. The entire passage speaks strongly of the unity of Jewish and Gentile believers in one body in Christ and gives no indication of any distinctive plan for Jewish people ever to be saved apart from the inclusion in the one body of Christ, the church. The church incorporates into itself all the true people of God, and almost all of the titles used of God's people in the OT are in one place or another applied to the church in the NT - post #3.

            God bless,
            William

            Sources: Systematic Theology - Wayne Grudem
            Comment>

              #7
              Originally posted by Cornelius View Post
              Thank you William for those verses that show the OT saints and NT saints are treated as the same people. The only real difference between OT and NT saints is that the former looked forward to the coming of the Christ and the latter looks back and the coming of the Christ.

              I won't hold by breath for anyone to post verses showing that Israel and the Church are distinct. (Specially in a Dispensationalist sense, where after Christ, there is a distinction between Israel and the Church.)
              What is even more perplexing is how people will reject covenantal baptism ... denying the relationship between blessings and covenants while arguing for the unbelieving persons that are broken off from the tree. You are absolutely right, Cornelius, "through faith" both OT and NT saints are identified. God has always preserved a faithful remnant which is True Israel.

              God bless,
              William
              Comment>

                #8
                Originally posted by theophilus View Post
                In the OT Israel is often called the wife of God and she was often unfaithful. In the NT the Church is called the bride of Christ and their wedding is still in the future.

                Let us rejoice and exult
                and give him the glory,
                for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
                and his Bride has made herself ready;
                it was granted her to clothe herself
                with fine linen, bright and pure”—
                for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
                (Revelation 19:7-8 ESV)


                The other items on your list show there are similarities between Israel and the Church but they don't prove they are identical. Chapters 9-11 of Romans show the present status of Israel. She has been temporarily set aside although individual Jews can be saved by becoming part of the church. A times is coming when Israel will be restored to its former position. Israel was promised territory on the earth; Christians are citizens of Heaven and so the Church must be taken out of the world by the rapture before the final restoration of Israel can take place.

                I think you're making a distinction between OT and NT where one doesn't exist in the Bible. In Rev 19:7-8, the word you quoted as "bride" is the word the NT uses for wife. The ESV translates it as bride only because of the translator's interpretation of context. The words in the OT also don't specifically mean wife or married. The OT calls faithful Israel a virgin. A virgin hasn't consummated a marriage.

                The Church is Israel. The true Church in both the OT and the NT is treated as God's bride. The church is not God's literal bride or wife. It's an analogy to show God's loving relationship and his requirement that to be His we must be faithful.

                I've pointed out several examples of the NT Church being equated with Israel. I've pointed out that there's no verse which makes a distinction between the Church and Israel. You're grasping at straws.
                Comment>

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Cornelius View Post
                  Thank you William for those verses that show the OT saints and NT saints are treated as the same people. The only real difference between OT and NT saints is that the former looked forward to the coming of the Christ and the latter looks back and the coming of the Christ.

                  I won't hold by breath for anyone to post verses showing that Israel and the Church are distinct. (Specially in a Dispensationalist sense, where after Christ, there is a distinction between Israel and the Church.)

                  That didn't show that the Church and Israel were the same Body. They are both the people of God at that time, but they are definitely not treated the same. One is under Law, one is under Grace. Big difference.

                  Matt.16:18 "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church:..." That is future. The Church hasn't yet been built when Christ said this. Thus the Church is not Israel.

                  Israel is the wife of the Father. The Church is a bride to be to the Son. Would you have an incestuous relationship with the Father and the Church, or the Son with Israel?

                  Ship Alone
                  Comment>

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Ship Alone View Post


                    That didn't show that the Church and Israel were the same Body. They are both the people of God at that time, but they are definitely not treated the same. One is under Law, one is under Grace. Big difference.

                    Matt.16:18 "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church:..." That is future. The Church hasn't yet been built when Christ said this. Thus the Church is not Israel.

                    Israel is the wife of the Father. The Church is a bride to be to the Son. Would you have an incestuous relationship with the Father and the Church, or the Son with Israel?

                    Ship Alone
                    Like everyone defending false doctrine, you'd prefer to quote your out-of-context proof texts than reply about verses that contradict your doctrine. Eph 2:12,19 says Christians are citizens of Israel. There are many verses that equate the Church with Israel.

                    Matt 16:18 Jesus says He will build his church... And, who was first to join that church? Jews. Why Jews, if Jews have a separate path to God, as dispies claim? In fact, that "future" building of the church constitutes the restoration of Israel. The Jewish state existed when Jesus was here, and yet He was asked when He's going to restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). Apparently, a jewish state doesn't constitute Israel. It wasn't even named Israel (the name was Judea). Anyway, Jesus responds to the question about restoring Israel by telling about Pentecost (Acts 1:8), which is often regarded as when the NT church was established. You might notice that after Pentecost, there never again is any comments about Israel being restored. In fact, if you notice, the NT authors, after Pentecost, frequently talk about Israel as something that is already established, such as Paul explaining that Christians are citizens of Israel.

                    Jesus, our King, is the King of Israel. Jesus isn't king of the state of Israel. Do the math.
                    Comment>

                      #11
                      Cornelius

                      No, Eph. 2:12,19 says those of the Church are citizens of the 'saints and of the household of God. That doesn't make them Israel. It means they are fellow citizens with Israel of the household of God.

                      Just because Jews are part of the Church doesn't mean the Church and Israel are the same body of believers. That is the mark of the Church, she is both Jew and Gentile in one body. Israel was a national body of believers only.

                      No, the Jewish state did not exist when Jesus was here. That is why they had to ask Rome to kill Christ. They lost their power to govern themselves.

                      Jesus is the King of the Jews. He is not the 'King' of the Church. He is the 'Bridegroom' or future 'Husband' of the Church. Seems elementary. 1+1=2. It's not so deep.

                      Ship Alone
                      Comment>

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Ship Alone View Post
                        No, Eph. 2:12,19 says those of the Church are citizens of the 'saints and of the household of God. That doesn't make them Israel. It means they are fellow citizens with Israel of the household of God.
                        That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel ... Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.

                        Alien: noun 1. a resident born in or belonging to another country who has not acquired citizenship by naturalization.

                        As a matter of simple logic, if we are no longer aliens to Israel then we are citizens of Israel. That's a position repeated just a few verses later when we are called citizens. But, you want to call a nation itself a citizen of a household? You're trying very hard to reject the plain teaching of scripture. Israel is the household of God, the house of Israel, thus Paul's language.


                        Originally posted by Ship Alone View Post
                        No, the Jewish state did not exist when Jesus was here. That is why they had to ask Rome to kill Christ. They lost their power to govern themselves.
                        The Jews asked Rome to kill Jesus because they were cowards (and their own King Herod found no fault in Jesus). Even though they were occupied, they were still the Jewish state. They had infinitely more claim to being the Jewish state than Israel today.

                        Originally posted by Ship Alone View Post
                        Jesus is the King of the Jews. He is not the 'King' of the Church. He is the 'Bridegroom' or future 'Husband' of the Church. Seems elementary. 1+1=2. It's not so deep.
                        Jesus is groom of the church and king of Israel. Those are both metaphors for the same thing. And, no it doesn't sound right when you mix them, because you shouldn't mix metaphors. You might as well argue that Jesus isn't our savior because he's he Jewish Messiah, but you'd be dead wrong. Our messiah is the Jewish messiah and our King is the King of the Jews. How many times is "kingdom" used in reference to Christianity in the NT? Scores of times. Does a Kingdom not have a king? Is Jesus not King of the Kingdom of Christ/Heaven/God? Christians are the true Jews, and Jesus dismisses non-believing so-called Jews as the Synagogue of Satan. This is one of the blasphemies of Dispensationalism, to deny Christians are the true people of God.


                        Comment>

                          #13
                          Cornelius

                          Again, we are citizens with the saints of Israel of the 'household of God'. That does not make us citizens of Israel. Read again Eph. 2:19 "Citizens of the household of God". In that household you have Israel and the Church, and others.

                          John 18:31 " Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: "

                          Jesus is King of Israel. That is not a metaphor. Jesus is the Bridegroom and Head of the Church, His Body. That is not a metaphor.

                          Christians are not Jews. They are Christians made up of Jew and Gentile into one Body.

                          Christians are the true people of God. They just are not Israel. The saved in Israel are also the true people of God who existed prior to the Church and who will exist again after the Church.

                          Ship Alone


                          Comment>

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Ship Alone View Post
                            Cornelius

                            Again, we are citizens with the saints of Israel of the 'household of God'. That does not make us citizens of Israel. Read again Eph. 2:19 "Citizens of the household of God". In that household you have Israel and the Church, and others.

                            John 18:31 " Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: "

                            Jesus is King of Israel. That is not a metaphor. Jesus is the Bridegroom and Head of the Church, His Body. That is not a metaphor.

                            Christians are not Jews. They are Christians made up of Jew and Gentile into one Body.

                            Christians are the true people of God. They just are not Israel. The saved in Israel are also the true people of God who existed prior to the Church and who will exist again after the Church.
                            Again, aliens vs. citizens of Israel. Simple logic, if not aliens then citizens of Israel. It doesn't fit your Dispensationalism so you refuse to do the simple logic.

                            Probably about 200 times in the Old Testament, "Israel" is referred to as a house or household. When Paul says we're citizens of the household of God, that means Israel. Indeed, that's why he even uses the term "citizens", which is not a word applied to members of a mere household, but it's a term used for members of a nation. And, Paul doesn't say nor imply that we are "fellow citizens with Israel" in the household of God.

                            Yes, it was against Roman law for Jews to execute someone, but in spite of that they still executed many people and attempted to execute Jesus themselves a few times. But, when Jesus became a very public figure, they no longer had the courage to attempt to kill him themselves. Regardless, they were still a Jewish state with their own King, even if they were occupied.

                            What is a Jew that Christians are not Jews? What does Paul say? "For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But A Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God." Paul denies that the so-called Jews were real Jews and he explained that Christians are the real Jews. Jesus explains the same thing when he refers to "those who say they are Jews but are not" and again when he tells people boasting of being Jews that they are not children of Abraham, in spite of their genealogy, but are children of Satan.
                            Comment>

                              #15
                              Cornelius

                              No, it doesn't fit what the Scripture is saying which is why I reject your statement.

                              Israel is called the 'house of Israel' many times. Where is she called a household? Paul says we are ' fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God' . That household includes Israel but is not confined only to Israel. Who were the saints citizens of before Israel? They were citizens of the household of God. They were not Israel. Like the Church is not Israel.

                              The verse you quote is Rom. 2:28-29. Paul is not saying everyone who believes in Christ is a Jew. He is saying that the true Jew is the Jew who believes in Christ as he has that true faith that was given to the Jews.

                              Ship Alone



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