Weekly Newsletter – June 20, 2016
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE
Revelation 18: 1- 24
In the next twenty-four verses, we shall witness the destruction of political Babylon. This Babylon is different from the one just discussed. Chapter 17 concerned religious Babylon, whereas chapter 18 pictures political, or commercial, Babylon. Religious Babylon was called “mystery Babylon,” but commercial Babylon is referred to as “Babylon the great.” Religious Babylon was presented as a woman or a mother, while commercial Babylon is portrayed as a city-a great city, a mighty city, and eventually a burning city. Religious Babylon was situated on seven hills, whereas political Babylon is visible from the sea (see verses 17, 18, and 21). Religious Babylon was destroyed by the kings of the earth (17:16), but political Babylon will be destroyed by horrendous judgments from the hand of God. When religious Babylon was destroyed, the kings rejoiced. When political Babylon is demolished, however, the kings and merchants of the earth lament [and weep] for her (18:9, 15). Let’s study political Babylon.
Verse 1: And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
John says, after these things. After what things? After the fulfillment of religious Babylon’s destruction. John’s statement is further proof that the two Babylons are entirely different and distinctive of one another. Only after the events of chapter 17 does John see God’s judgment upon political Babylon in the verses that follow.
The angel bringing the warning of impending judgment is powerful and glorious. His appearance lightens the entire globe. Quite possibly, this is a christophany or appearance of Christ, as He is the light of the world (John 8:12).
Verse 2: And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
God’s judgment of commercial Babylon has begun. The angel’s cry is, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen. Why? She has become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every [evil] spirit imaginable. She is a cage containing every vicious, filthy, and hateful bird in existence.
A walk through New York City, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Hollywood, or San Francisco would be helpful at this point. America’s major cities-and minor ones as well-are loaded with lust-ridden sinners seeking sex thrills through prostitutes, R- and X-rated movies, and pornographic bookstores. Our beloved America could possibly fit the description of political Babylon as a cage [containing] every unclean and hateful bird controlled by foul spirits and demons who inhabit the land and its people. God help us to have an old-fashioned, Holy Spirit-empowered revival in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Otherwise, God’s judgment may soon fall.
Verse 3: For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
Just like religious Babylon, this political system has turned to idolatry and fornication. As we saw in chapter 17, these terms refer to the worship of strange gods and a love of this world’s material goods. Seeking prestige and power, commercial or political Babylon has promoted and joined ungodly world alliances. The text states that the nations of earth have partaken of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed [spiritual] fornication with her for gain. Hence, the merchants of the earth have become exceedingly wealthy by “wheeling and dealing” with this nation who is superabundantly loaded with delicacies.
Verse 4: And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Verse 5: For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
The believers of the Tribulation hour-those who trusted in the shed blood of the Lamb and refused the mark of the beast-are told to come out of her [and partake not] of her [evil deeds]. They are to live holy lives in the midst of a cage [full of] unclean and hateful bird[s] whose sins have reached unto heaven and caused an abominable stench in the nostrils of the Almighty. They are to be careful of materialism and to refrain from illegal gain through the love of the delicacies of this world.
Verse 6: Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
Verse 7: How much she hath glorified herself and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
Here we see God’s law of sowing and reaping coming into effect: They that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same (Job 4:8). Humanity cannot get away with sin forever. God hates sin. It is inconsistent with His holiness. Except for God’s mercy, most of us would have been dead and in hell long ago. His grace, however, passes all human understanding. The Lord is…longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Still God cannot tolerate sin forever, and the reaping of political Babylon’s iniquity must finally take place.
What a terrible experience as Babylon receives a double portion of judgment. Literally, the verse should say, “The double is to be doubled?’ This was the punishment under the law of Moses (see Exodus 22:4, 7). Now God says, “Double the judgment upon Babylon according to her works. Reward her even as she rewarded you.” Babylon has glorified herself and lived deliciously. Her wealthy became wealthier and her poor became poorer. As a nation, she did not care about the poor, for she said, “I am a queen. I shall see no sorrow. I do not want to look at the needs of the impoverished.”
There is a possibility that James 5:1-6 predicts the judgment administered in Revelation 18:1, 7: Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped [the poor] are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.
The end of the age will not see communism enthroned. Instead, capitalism will be the ruling power as ten Western nations bleed the world’s inhabitants of their possessions. Now, don’t misunderstand. I hate the atheistic, godless monstrosity called “communism.” It will be destroyed, as will Russia, in the Middle East (see Ezekiel 39:1, 2). However, “double trouble” is also coming for those exploiters of the masses-the rich who starve the poor-according to the verses just investigated. Their judgment takes place as Babylon is burned.
Verse 8: Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
Verse 9: And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
Verse 10: Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
When the news of Babylon’s destruction is received, earth’s kings, monarchs, potentates, and presidents immediately begin to weep. Their source of wealth has been disintegrated. They are joined by members of the Chamber of Commerce.
Verse 11: And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more.
Let’s view the commodities. Not a single item is really necessary. In fact, the entire display may be classified as “luxurious worldly baubles used to impress high society.” Imagine, even the mark of the beast won’t hinder wealth in the Western world! Just look at the expensive dainties listed in the following portion of Scripture.
Verse 12: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls [for investment portfolios], and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet [for fashionable dress], 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 [for high-class furniture],
Verse 13: And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense [for sensuousness. Also, a stockpile of] wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses [for the satisfying of the flesh], and chariots [for the getaway], and slaves [for labour to increase wealth], and [finally the] souls of men [for lust and other demeaning practices].
But judgment must come. The treasures of the Tribulation enterprises do not last. Neither will they last for you, if this is all you want out of life. Why?
Verse 14:And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
They will be destroyed in one hour (verses 10 and 17).
Verse 15: The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her; shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
Verse 16: And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
Verse 17: For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster; and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off
Verse 18: And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
Verse 19: And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
No comment is needed at this point, for the preceding texts are self-explanatory. As the world weeps over the destruction of political Babylon, all heaven breaks forth in praise.
Verse 20: Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
To this point there has only been one other command to rejoice recorded in the Book of Revelation. All has been solemn and sad. At the overthrow of Babylon, however, the cherubim, seraphim, and other angelic orders are told to praise the Lord. The holy apostles and prophets-representatives of all Old and New Testament saints-are instructed to join them. Why? The chief enemy of the people has been destroyed.
The world persecuted the prophets, apostles, and saints of God during every age. Oftentimes great suffering was inflicted upon them: [Some] were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:35-38). Now such oppression is finished forever! Babylon… is fallen, is fallen. Praise the Lord! The world can no longer touch God’s people for God hath avenged you on her-or from the Greek, which is stronger: “God hath judged your judgment on her.”
Verse 21: And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
Some Bible scholars identify this stone as Christ. Acts 4:11 states: [Christ] is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
The stone strikes at the end time when ten toes or ten Western nations are aligned. Daniel 2:34 states: Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet [composed of ten toes] that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
This explanation is repeated in Daniel 2:44 and 45: And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
The Lord Jesus Christ may well be the stone that pulverizes Babylon. So thorough is the stone’s destruction that Babylon is finished forever.
Verse 22: And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
Entertainment ceases in this “laugh-a-minute” commercial empire. All music and hilarity is forever silenced. The craftsmen-including tool and die makers, auto mechanics, and machinists are put out of business as all production is halted in Babylon, once the international center of commerce.
Verse 23: And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
Lights are extinguished, possibly through energy deficiencies. Marriages cease, and heartbreak inundates the land. No longer is there time for mirth, joy, love, and romance.
Verse 24: And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
The closing verses of this chapter reveal three reasons for God’s judgment of Babylon: (1) her love of wealth and riches-[her] merchants were the great men of earth; (2) her abusive usage of drugs for by [her] sorceries were all nations deceived. (The word sorceries in this text again comes from the Greek word pharmakeia, translated pharmacy in English. The term connotes “getting high on” or “getting kicks out of’ drugs.); and (3) her hatred, abuse, and persecution of the people of God-for in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
Who is Babylon? Certain scholars think that the term refers to the ancient city of Babylon on the banks of the Euphrates River in present-day Iraq. Interestingly, the city is currently being rebuilt. Others, including such prophecy scholars as Dr. S. Franklin Logsden, believe Babylon to be the United States of America-a leader of the Western world aligned with the Antichrist’s ten-toed kingdom.
Some great scholars believe that America and Babylon the great are one and the same because of the information presented in the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, plus the words of John the seer in Revelation, chapter 18.
Consider the following momentarily. Isaiah 18:1, 2 depicts a latter-day nation that amazingly resembles modern America. This nation (1) has the insignia of wings-similar to our national emblem, the bald eagle; (2) is a land that is beyond the sea from Israel; (3) is scattered and peeled-meaning it is widely spread out or has great land areas; (4) is meted out-or staked out-by acres and miles; and (5) is a land whose rivers are spoiled-or polluted.
Likewise, in chapters 50 and 51 of the book bearing his name, Jeremiah presents conclusive evidence that a latter-day Babylon-far different from and superior to ancient Babylon-will spring into existence. As one studies Jeremiah’s remarks, he is amazed to see that modern America seems to be the fulfillment of these predictions because: (1) she is a nation of mingled people (Jeremiah 50:37); (2) she is a nation whose mother shall be sorely confounded and who coexists with the “mother” at the hour of her decline (50:12); (3) she dwellest upon many waters (51:13); (4) her wealth plagues the nations of the earth to the point of insane jealousy (51:7); (5) her space exploits are so utterly fantastic that she tries to mount up to heaven (51:53); and (6) she exists when Israel is back in her land.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Where’s My Eraser?
I’ll never forget my first day of kindergarten. I was barely five years old, but I remember it as vividly as if it had happened yesterday.
Making new friends with all my classmates was exciting, the bright and cheery decorations in our homeroom were beautiful, and my teacher seemed very nice.
But the thing that caught my attention and completely fascinated me was…the blackboard.
Watching the teacher take chalk and draw simple pictures and write letters on the board was interesting. But then she took something in her hand, wiped it back and forth across the surface of the blackboard, and instantly every mark she had made disappeared! I watched in wide-eyed astonishment, absolutely intrigued.
Before my kindergarten year was over, I had the opportunity to try it for myself. I made some chalk marks on the board, then used the eraser to make them go away. I never tired of it. The eraser was my favorite discovery.
Although I’m normally not a person who dwells on the past a great deal, I do often reflect on the blessings and good things God has sent into my life. My husband, Jack, and I make it a point to recall and give thanks for the ministry opportunities, friends, and victories the Lord has given us-and continues to bestow upon us. Somehow it seems my mind is like a recorder.
Your life, the movie
An article from Smithsonian Magazine written by Dr. Wilbur Penfield, director of the Montreal Neurological Institute, explains why I felt that way. He wrote: “Your brain contains a permanent record of your past that is like a single, continuous strip of movie film, complete with sound track. This film library records your whole waking life from childhood on.”
Do you ever have “home movies” from your past running in your mind? Sometimes that’s a good thing, but it can also be painful to be reminded of events and people that have hurt us, or things we have done to injure others.
Perhaps there are incidents in our past that we hope nobody else knows about, and sometimes the devil will replay these hidden shames to torment us.
“Oh, you’re such a bad person,” he says. “Just look at what you did. How can you pretend to be so good when you’re really so rotten?” Revelation 12:10 exposes the devil as the “accuser of our brethren” who accuses us before God day and night. But the good news is that we don’t have to worry about his accusations.
Jack refers to Dr. Penfield’s article in one of the devotionals in his Soul Food book. His comments there certainly helped me better understand the concept of the “book of remembrance” mentioned in the Bible. Truly God is the great Bookkeeper. He has a record of my life in a heavenly book that has my name on it-Rexella Shelton Van Impe. God has kept a record book on all of humanity-every single person who has ever lived.
But just as He has written everything down, good and bad-every failure, fault, and sin-He also has the ability and divine desire to erase everything bad on my record. Oh, praise God for a heavenly eraser that deletes every wrong word or thought or deed!
That eraser, of course, is the blood of Christ. And it washes us clean! It wipes everything off the blackboard!
God’s heavenly eraser leaves no trace behind. Isaiah 1:18 declares, Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. And Psalm 103:12 says, As far as the east is from the west-and they never meet-so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Forgiven and forgotten
When our sins are forgiven, they are forgotten. God promises in Hebrews 10:17-And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. In fact, the prophet Micah rejoiced that God will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). Then, according to D. L. Moody and Billy Sunday (I don’t know who said it first), He puts up a great-big sign that says, NO FISHING ALLOWED!
God doesn’t want us to go fishing there, looking for and finding the past. He wants us to forget it just as He has. Yet I think that sometimes after God has erased the blackboard of our lives, we keep bringing up events and things that
God doesn’t remember any more. Our human nature has a tendency to go back and keep rerunning the old mental home movies of what we were like before God saved us and made us new creatures through Christ Jesus.
We must learn how to forget the past and look to our future in Christ. The apostle Paul, acknowledging that he was not perfect, cried out, But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).
Of course, the devil will try to remind us of our past. One of his tools of deception is to keep us looking back. He knows if he can make us feel that our past sins make us unworthy to do anything for God, we cannot be effective in the present.
But we can overcome the devil with our testimony of erased sins through the blood of Christ.
Then God can use our life story-our testimony-to reach other people who need to be set free from the shackles of sin. When others see us walking in victory, it gives them hope.
I heard a story about a little girl who said to her pastor, “I want you to know that I am saved.”
“That’s wonderful, honey,” he said. “Can you tell me which one of my sermons brought you to Christ?”
The little girl replied, “It wasn’t anybody’s preaching-it was my Aunt Mary’s practicing!”
Living the life of Christ day by day is not always easy, but there is such power in our testimony. In Romans 7:19, Paul talks about the struggle he faced every day in doing what was right. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Yet, just a few verses later, he declares, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (8:1).
What’s the secret? Being willing to say, “Where’s my eraser?” Jesus came into the world for a purpose-not only to set the example of a perfect life and to show us God on earth and what we can be though Him, but also to erase the blackboard of our lives again and again! I often find myself saying in my prayer, “Lord, thank You for that eraser.”
Let me make it clear that I certainly am not suggesting that we nonchalantly fail more and sin more, expecting God to erase whatever we do. That’s not what I mean at all. The truth is that even when we do our best to live righteously, there are times when we will not make the right choices. And in those times we can and should say, “Where’s my eraser?”
God is much better at forgiving than we are at sinning!
Eugene Peterson, the pastor who produced The Message a contemporary language version of the Bible, observed that “God is much better at forgiving than we are at sinning.”
Even when we think that we have absolutely gone too far, that we’ve really done it this time, or that what we have done is totally unforgivable, God stands waiting for us with open arms. No matter how “good” we have been at sinning, He is much better at forgiving. No matter what we’ve done (or failed to do), it’s never too bad to be forgiven…and to be erased!
Sin brings shame, but confession brings confidence. The Bible says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We can be victorious in the Lord. We can live a life like Aunt Mary that draws others to Jesus. We may have failed yesterday. We may fail today. But we can ask Him to erase our failures and sins.
Then we can begin anew each day.
There’s a beautiful old hymn called, “An Evening Prayer,” that captures the idea of asking God to erase the blackboard of our lives at the end of each day. It says:
If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have walked in my own willful way,
Dear Lord, forgive.
Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee,
Forgive the secret sins I do not see,
O guide me, love me, and my keeper be,
Dear Lord, Amen
Recently I was witnessing to an acquaintance about accepting God’s forgiveness and beginning a new life in Christ. Oh, how this person wanted to do it, but he kept struggling with some really bad sins-truly evil practices-that he feared had ruined his chance for redemption and taken him beyond forgiveness.
God hates sin…but loves sinners
I shared the amazing truth of Romans 5:6-that Christ died for the ungodly. “It’s true that God hates sin,” I told this friend, “but that does not diminish His love for sinners. He died for the very sins that He hates.
“There is nothing in your life that cannot be forgiven-no stains that He cannot erase,” I said. “When God erases your sins and you begin a new life, not only is your future clean, but your past is clean also. That means every mention of your past failure is erased in God’s book. It will never again be found in those heavenly pages where the greatest Bookkeeper of all records your deeds. “
So far the person I’ve been witnessing to has not given his heart to God and accepted Christ as his Savior. I am praying that the Lord will continue to deal with his troubled heart and love him into His kingdom.
The world we live in today is so troubled and filled with strife, so confused and far from God that many people are filled with fear and anxiety. From a natural standpoint, it would be easy to get our blackboard filled up with worry and dread.
If we as believers study and understand the Word, we see that prophecy is coming true. Every day the news points to the coming of the Lord. But those without the Lord-those who do not know that today’s news points to Christ’s coming-must get dreadfully discouraged. There is no hope outside of Christ.
But we do not have to be sad or fearful because Jesus said, Let not your heart be troubled…I will come again (John 14:1, 3). He also declared, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
If we take our eyes off the Lord and start looking at the world around us, then we’re going to falter. The Gospels tell how Peter started walking on the water to Jesus, and then was distracted by the stormy seas and began to sink. The same thing can happen to us. When we get that sinking feeling, like Peter, we need to cry out to the Lord for help. We need to ask him to erase the turmoil and lack of faith in our hearts. The only cure is to say, “Lord, I missed the mark again. Please erase it, forgive it, and help me start again.”
No regrets! No fear!
You know, because of God’s heavenly eraser, we don’t have to regret the past or fear the future. God has forgiven our past, and He is already in our future. But the only way to get to the future is to live today.
We have absolutely no control over what happened yesterday-and to a large extent, we can’t determine what will come tomorrow. The only time we can really use is now, today, where we are living this minute. We wake up every morning to a clean, fresh page God has given us that is labeled TODAY. And, as I’m sure you’ve heard, it is a gift-that’s why it is called the present!
I challenge you to start living your life to the fullest. Because we know the Lord, this is the most exciting time to be alive since the dawn of creation. Give your best to the Lord. Do your best to make a difference in your family, your neighborhood…in your world. Who knows if God has brought you to the world for just such a time as this?
Yes, there will be challenges. There will be times when you don’t know which way to turn or exactly what you should do. But keep on going with your hand in His. Don’t look at the challenges-just keep your eyes and heart on the Lord. The Bible says, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee (Isaiah 26:3).
That’s where I want to live from now on-how about you?
Remember; don’t be afraid to ask for the eraser when you need it!
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Thanks to you for preaching the true word of God. The priests and preachers out there are not feeding the flock and warning Christians of what is going on.
I do believe this Pope is in error and is going to usher in the Anti-Christ.
I pray to Jesus for your strength and dedication to the Lord.
Rexella and Jack your reward will be great in Paradise.
Woe to you Priests and so called preachers not feeding the flock and God help you.
Thanks for all your wonderful shows, your lifetime dedicated to bringing God to the Godless, and your email outreach. I have been a fan for a very long time and I always look forward to your next email. You are all my family, as much as if you were my own blood. Thank you Jack and Rexella and your entire staff for showing me what true dedication to the lord truly is.
God bless, and take care,
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