2 Peter 1:20, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation"
Revelation is defined as "to reveal, a disclosure," it does not mean to hide. Yet, that is what most people believe about the book of Revelation...that its meaning is hidden, and that we must resort to "private interpretation." However, the 'meaning' of the book of Revelation is interpreted and revealed by scripture itself.
Remember, the prophesies in this book were written to those living in the first century (Revelation 1:1,4,11). How could God bless his people all this time for keeping these prophesies if they did not understand them (Revelation 1:3; 22:7,9)? The fact is, they did understand them. These prophesies are not left to private interpretation, but the meaning is revealed to everyone, even those who were alive in the first century (Revelation 22:10).
2 Corinthians 4:3, "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:"
What is a Mark?
A Mark (seal, sign, token, frontlet) is placed upon the forehead or hands, either as a sign of a curse or as a sign of redemption.
Genesis 4:15: God places a mark on the covenant breaking Cain, so nobody would kill him.
Exodus 28:36-38: Priests of God wore a gold plate upon their forehead, symbolizing the redeemed man.
Exodus 13:9,16, Deuteronomy 6:6,8; 11:18: A mark upon the forehead and hand was a symbol of total obedience to God’s Law.
Solomon 8:6: A seal upon the heart and arm is symbolic of a love for someone.
Isaiah 49:16: God has graven His people on the palms of His hands as a sign that he would not forget them.
Ezekiel 9:4: A mark upon the forehead was indicative of their allegiance to the Lord in the midst of abomination.
Revelation 13:16-17: The Beast places a mark on the hand or forehead of his followers also. This mark is his name (which represents ones character).
Revelation 14:9-11; 16:2; 19:20: Those who receive the mark of the Beast (worship something other than God) will be tormented. Which means...
Revelation 9:4: Those who do not have the seal of God in their forehead will be tormented. The Beast’s mark is contrasted to God’s mark!
Revelation 20:4: Those who do not receive the Beasts’ mark will be the keepers of God's commandments and have the testimony of Jesus.
Revelation 15:2: To keep the Word of God is to overcome and be victorious over the mark, or name, or character, of the Beast.
Revelation 3:12: The name of God will be written upon those who overcome.
Revelation 7:3; 14:1; 22:4: Where will the name of God be written? It will be sealed in their foreheads!
Revelation 19:13: What exactly is the name of God that’ll be written in their foreheads? It is The Word Of God! (See also John 1:1,14). In other words, Scripture, God's Word, will be in their hearts, minds, and souls!
A Name represents ones Character
Biblically, a name represents one’s character. This is why God changed the name of his servants (Genesis 17:5,15; 32:28; 35:10, 2 Samuel 12:25, Acts 13:9), and told parents what to name their unborn child (Genesis 16:11; 17:19, 1 Chronicles 22:9, Isaiah 7:14, Hosea 1:4,6,9, Matthew 1:21,24, Luke 1:13,31), and why men have chosen one name over another for their child (Judges 6:32, Genesis 35:18, Luke 1:59-60), and why name's of cities have been changed (Genesis 28:19): to reflect their character!
God wants to seal his name, his character, his Law in us (Isaiah 8:16). God’s character is God’s Law, and is described in the Word of God. God’s Law will be written in our hearts and minds (foreheads), Hebrews 10:16, Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26.
Characteristic God Is The Law Is Good Luke 18:19 1 Timothy 1:18 Holy Isaiah 5:16 Romans 7:12 Perfect Matthew 5:48 Psalm 19:7 Pure 1 John 3:2,3 Psalm 19:8 Just Deuteronomy 32:4 Romans 7:12 True John 3:33 Psalm 19:9 Spiritual 1 Corinthians 10:4 Romans 7:14 Righteousness Jeremiah 23:6 Psalm 119:172 Faithful 1 Corinthians 1:9 Psalm 119:86 Love 1 John 4:8 Romans 13:10 Unchangeable James 1:17 Matthew 5:18 Eternal Genesis 21:33 Psalm 111:7,8
The Beast is Man's Government
The Beast wants to put his character in us as well. The Mark of The Beast, like all scripture, is given so that we may understand God and how to serve Him better. The Mark of The Beast teaches us that the Lord demands uncompromising obedience and unswerving dedication. The Beast represents the archetype of the tyrannical state, which is opposed to God’s Word and God’s Law.
In scripture, the Beast is defined as kings (Daniel 7:17, Revelation 17:10-12), and man-made kingdoms (Daniel 7:18,23, Revelation 16:10) that have power to make war and kill (Revelation 11:7; 17:14). The Beast is the government, with rulers and armies, that are against God and his servants (Revelation 19:19). Jesus said, "He that is not with me is against me" (Matthew 12:30, Luke 11:23). So rulers that enforce laws contrary to God’s Law, are the Beast.
Followers of the Beast receive his mark of ownership; submission to ungodly, anti-Christian law. The mark in Revelation is not to be taken literally. It’s an allusion to the Old Testament symbol of man’s total obedience to God, and stands as a warning that a society’s God (whether the true God or the state) demands complete commitment in all areas of life. Christians cannot compromise (2 Cor.6:14-18). The state is not absolute, it’s under authority of Christ (Psalm 2, Matthew 28:18); it’s an instrument of God (Romans 13:1-7). It has no license to do whatever it likes. It's ordained purpose is for a rod of correction; to speak the Word of God, to punish evil, and to reward good (Romans 13:4, 1 Peter 2:14, Hebrews 13:7). That is its only authorized purpose.
Who gives power to the Beast? The dragon (Revelation 13:2,4). Who is the dragon? This dragon is the spirit of satan (Revelation 12:9). Those who have the spirit of satan make war with those who "...keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17). The Lord God has revealed Himself as God, but the spirit of satan is the god and prince of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4 John 12:31).
The US Government has a computer named BEAST (Battle Engagement Area Simulation and Tracking), developed out of Area 51. It uplinks to a satellite using GPS (Global Positioning Systems). They power a Film Lithium Diode in a computer chip called MARC (Multiple Automated readout Chip), which is best placed in the hand or forehead because of lowest body temperature. It’s funny how the government intentionally uses biblical descriptions to show their defiance to God openly.
The mystery of 666 Explained
Revelation 13:16-18 is based on Ezekiel 8 and 9. The "mark" symbolized the spiritual condition of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The ones with the "mark" were in allegiance with God. However, in Revelation, the mark is reversed. That is to say, the mark was on those who were against God and had allegiance to the "beast."
John wrote that the number "is the number of a man's name; and his number is 666." This tells us that those who received the "mark" were actually in allegiance with a "man," an actually person of the first century. So, who was he? Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus! Better known as Nero Caesar.
John used a puzzle called gematria in which numbers are used to represent certain letters. John used this puzzle to reveal Nero without actually writing down his name. Remember, the early churches were being persecuted during this time—not only from the Jews, but also from the Romans. The numerical values of the Hebrew letters in Neron Kesar (Nero Caesar) are:
Nero Caesar fits the gematria code number "666." Using this code, his name would be rendered as "NRWN QSR." (NRWN QSR). The number values are:N = 50
R = 200
W = 6
N = 50
Q = 100
S = 60
R = 200
which, when added together, equals 666. The fact that Nero fits the description of the "beast" is well documented. According to Suetonius, he murdered his parents, wife, brother, aunt, and many others close to him and of high station in Rome. He was a torturer, a homosexual rapist, and a sodomite. He even married two young boys and paraded them around as his wives. One of the boys, whose name was Sporus, was castrated by Nero. He was truly bestial in his character, depravity, and actions. He devised a kind of game: covered with the skin of some wild animal, he was let loose from a cage and attacked the private parts of men and women, who were bound at stakes. He also initiated the war against the Jews which led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD..
Nero’s persecution, which was initiated in A.D.64, was the first ever Roman assault on Christianity. Roman historian Tacitus (A.D. 56-117) spoke of Nero's "cruel nature" that "put to death so many innocent men." He records the scene in Rome when the persecution of Christians broke out: "And their death was aggravated with mockeries, insomuch that, wrapped in the hides of wild beasts, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or fastened to crosses to be set on fire, that when the darkness fell they might be burned to illuminate the night." Christians were crucified, beheaded, burnt alive, and used as torches to light the palace gardens. Historically, Nero is the one that persecuted Christians beyond all comparison. St. John’s banishment to Patmos (where he wrote the book of Revelation) was itself a result of the great persecution of Nero. The apostle Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. The apostle Peter, who was crucified upside down, was another victim of Nero, .
As Church father Eusebius notes: "Nero was the first of the emperors who showed himself an enemy of the divine religion." Sulpicius Severus concurs: "He first attempted to abolish the name of Christian." In his Annals, Roman historian Tacitus points to those who were persecuted as "those who . . . were vulgarly called Christians." Roman historian Suetonius concurs, for in a list of the few "positive" contributions of Nero as emperor, he includes the fact that Nero persecuted Christians: "During his reign many abuses were severely punished and put down, and no fewer new laws were made:. . . . Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition."
Noted church historian J. L. von Mosheim wrote of Nero's persecution: "Foremost in the rank of those emperors, on whom the church looks back with horror as her persecutors, stands Nero, a prince whose conduct towards the Christians admits of no palliation, but was to the last degree unprincipled and inhuman. The dreadful persecution which took place by order of this tyrant, commenced at Rome about the middle of November, in the year of our Lord 64. . . . This dreadful persecution ceased but with the death of Nero. The empire, it is well known, was not delivered from the tyranny of this monster until the year 68, when he put an end to his own life." (L. von Mosheim, Historical Commentaries, I:138,139).
His bestial cruelty is evidenced in the writings of the Roman historian Suetonius (A.D. 70-160), who speaks of Nero's "cruelty of disposition" evidencing itself at an early age. He documents Nero's evil and states: "neither discrimination or moderation [were employed] in putting to death whosoever he pleased on any pretext whatever." Suetonius notes that Nero "compelled four hundred senators and six hundred Roman knights, some of whom were well to do and of unblemished reputation, to fight in the arena."
Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79) described Nero as "the destroyer of the human race" and "the poison of the world." Roman satirist Juvenal (A.D. 60-140) speaks of "Nero's cruel and bloody tyranny." Elsewhere, he calls Nero a "cruel tyrant."
Nero so affected the imagination that the pagan writer Apollinius of Tyana, a contemporary of Nero, specifically mentions that Nero was called a "beast": "In my travels, which have been wider than ever man yet accomplished, I have seen many, many wild beasts of Arabia and India; but this beast, that is commonly called a Tyrant, I know not how many heads it has, nor if it be crooked of claw, and armed with horrible fangs. . . . And of wild beasts you cannot say that they were ever known to eat their own mother, but Nero has gorged himself on this diet."
How Nero fulfills Prophesy
In Revelation 13:7, the Beast is said to "make war with the saints and to overcome them." Revelation 13:5 says that the beast would conduct such blasphemous warfare for a specific period of time: 42 months. The Neronic persecution was instituted in 64 AD and lasted until his death in June 68 AD, which is three and a half years, or 42 months! Nero fits the bill for the role of the beast!
Revelation 13:10 and 14 says the Beast not only slays by the sword, but ultimately is to die of a sword wound. Do you know how Nero died? According to Suetonius, he "drove a dagger into his throat, aided by Epaphroditus, his private secretary" (ch.49). Nero killed with the sword and was killed by the sword. That Nero did, in fact, kill by the sword is a well-attested fact. Paul, for example, is said to have died under Nero by decapitation by means of the sword. Tertullian credits "Nero's cruel sword" as providing the martyr's blood as seed for the church. He urges his Roman readers to "Consult your histories; you will there find that Nero was the first who assailed with the imperial sword the Christian sect."
Nero died in the middle of the war on June 8th, 68 AD, and Vespasian went back to Rome to fight to become the new emperor. During this time the Christians fled Jerusalem because they heeded the warning of Matthew 24:16; the Jews thought the respite was a sign from God of victory and they gathered in Jerusalem in great numbers. The Romans came back and destroyed the city.
Revelation 17:3 tells us that the beast is red. The red color may be indicative of the bloodshed caused by the beast. But Suetonius writes of the legend associated with Nero's ancestral parentage, which explains why he had a red beard, which was very unusual in those times.
Revelation 17:10 says, "And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space." The five "kings" were not ruling at the same time, for the text stated "five are fallen," meaning that five of those kings had come and gone. Then "one is," meaning the "king" who was ruling at the time Revelation was written. Here, in this verse, we have one of the clearest proofs for Nero being the beast. If we simply examine the list of Roman Emperors, we will be able to determine who the sixth king was. Flavius Josephus clearly points out that Julius Caesar was the first emperor of Rome, followed by Augustus; Tiberius; Caius (Caligula); Claudius; and the sixth emperor was…Nero (Antiquities, books 18 and 19), who assumed imperial power upon the death of the fifth emperor, Claudius, in October, A.D. 54. The matter is confirmed just a little later in the writings of Roman historians: Suetonius (Lives of the Twelve Caesars and Dio Cassius, Roman History 5). Nero reigned from 54AD to June of 68AD. John informs us that the seventh king was "not yet come." That would be Galba, who assumed power upon Nero's death in June, A.D. 68. But he was only to continue a "short space." As a matter of historical fact, his reign lasted but six months until January 15, A.D. 69.
What about the Beast's death-wound and his subsequent resurrection? Let us now consider John's revelation of the Beast arising from the dead (Revelation 13:3-4). At this point we need to reflect upon a most significant series of historical events of the A.D. 60s. First, with the death of Nero, the Roman Empire's founding family vanished from rule. Following the death of Nero was the extinction of the Julian line. Immediately, the Roman Empire was hurled into civil wars of horrible ferocity and dramatic proportions. These civil wars would strike everyone as being the very death throes of Rome, the Beast generically considered. Before the world's startled eyes, the seven-headed Beast (Rome) was toppling to its death as its sixth head (Nero) was mortally wounded with the sword.
Tacitus's detailed account of the ruin wreaked upon Rome almost equals in psychological horror, cultural devastation, and human carnage that which befell Jerusalem during the Jewish War, as recorded by Josephus and Tactius. The Roman civil wars were the first fruits of Nero's death. Josephus records that the destruction was so horrible, that the general Vespasian, "was not able to apply himself further in other wars when his native country was laid waste." Josephus agrees that during this time Rome was brought near to utter "ruin." He notes that "about this time it was that heavy calamities came about Rome on all sides." According to 4 Ezra 12:16-19, written around A.D. 100, the Empire was "in danger of falling": "In the midst of the time of that kingdom great struggles shall arise, and it shall be in danger of falling; nevertheless it shall not fall then, but shall regain its former power."
But what eventually occurred at the end of these death throes? Suetonius informs us that: "The empire, which for a long time had been unsettled and, as it were, drifting through the usurpation and violent death of three emperors, was at last taken in hand given stability by the Flavian family." Josephus sets forth this view of things when he writes: "So upon this confirmation of Vespasian's entire government, which was now settled, and upon the unexpected deliverance of the public affairs of the Romans from ruin, Vespasian turned his thoughts to what remained unsubdued in Judea." Thus, after a time of grievous civil wars, the Empire was revived by the ascending of Vespasian to the purple.
The point is not that Nero’s name is the primary identification of 666. The point is, instead, what the number meant to the seven churches. St. John’s Biblically informed readers will have already recognized many clear indications of the Beast’s identity. Nero arrived on the scene as the first great persecutor of the Church, the embodiment of the "666-ness" of the Empire, and – Lo and behold! – his very name spells out 666! It is significant that "all the earliest Christian writers on the Apocalypse, from Irenaeus down to Victorious of Pettau and Commodian in the fourth, and Andreas in the fifth, and St. Beatus in the eighth century, connect Nero, or some Roman emperor, with the Apocalyptic Beast ." There should be no reasonable doubt about this identification. St. John was writing to first-century Christians, warning them of things that were "shortly" to take place. They were engaged in the most crucial battle of history, against the Dragon and the evil Empire which he possessed. The purpose of the Revelation was to comfort the Church with the assurance that God was in control, so that even the awesome might of the Dragon and the Beast would not stand before the armies of Jesus Christ. Christ was wounded in His heel on Friday, the sixth day, the Day of the Beast – yet that is the day He crushed the Dragon’s head. At his most powerful, St. John says, the Beast is just a six, or a series of sixes; never a seven.
It is charged by some that Neron Kesar is merely a convenient "misspelling" of Nero’s name in Hebrew. This objection overlooks the fact that before the modern introduction of dictionaries the world was simply not as concerned as we are about uniformity in the spelling of names. Alternate spellings were common (e.g. "Joram" and "Jehoram" in the Old Testament), especially in the transliteration of words into a foreign tongue. But the allegation of misspelling is wholly wrong anyway. The form Neron Kesar is the linguistically "correct" Hebrew form, is the form found in the Talmud and other rabbinical writings, and was used by Hebrews in the first century, as archaeological evidence has shown. As F. W. Farrar observed, "the Jewish Christian would have tried the name as he thought of the name-that is in Hebrew letters. And the moment he did this the secret stood revealed. No Jew ever thought of Nero except as ‘Neron Kesar,’ and this gives at once . . . 666" (The Early Days of Christianity, Chicago and New York: Belford, Clarke& Co., 1882, p. 540). Of some related interest is the fact that if Nero’s name is written without the final "n" (i.e., the way it would occur to a Gentile to spell it in Hebrew), it yields the number 616 — which is exactly the variant reading in a few New Testament manuscripts. The most reasonable explanation for this variant is that it arose from the confusion over the final "n".
It may now be pointed out that in an Aramaic document from Murabba’at, dated to the "second year of the emperor Nero," the name is spelled ‘rsq nwrn’ as required by the theory (i.e., that 666 signifies Nero). The last two consonants of ‘rsq’ are damaged, but enough is preserved to show that no vowel-letter was written between the ‘q’ and ‘s’ (Revelation 13:18 and a Scroll from Murabba’at). The evidence can be seen by consulting the French work edited by P, Benoit, J. T. Milik, and R. DeVaux, Discoveries in the Judean Desert of Jordan II (Oxford, 1961), page 18, plate 29.
The Christians of the first century were under the military authority of Rome, a nation which openly proclaimed its rulers, the Caesars, to be divine. All those under the jurisdiction of Rome were required by law to publicly proclaim their allegiance to Caesar by burning a pinch of incense and declaring, "Caesar is Lord". Upon compliance with this law, the people were given a papyrus document called a "libellus", which they were required to present when either stopped by the Roman police or attempting to engage in commerce in the Roman marketplace, increasing the difficulty of "buying or selling" without this mark. This is the essence of Scripture’s warnings to the early Christians against taking upon themselves the "mark of the beast".
666 is not the Pope
Some claim that 666 refers to the Pope because the Latin title to the Pope of Rome is "Vicarius Filii Dei" (which, in English, means "Vicar of the Son of God"). When you add up the Roman numeral value of this Latin Title, it totals 666. Scripture is clear that 666 is the number of a man's name (Revelation 13:18; 15:2). Vicarius Filii Dei is a title to the pope's office, it is not his name. Therefore, this does not fulfill prophesy because this is not a name of a man, like scripture says. It is a title.
The Beast is not a computer
Some claim that computers are the beast because they have "666" encoded in their programs. The Bible explains how to recognize this beast, by his number. Revelation 13:18 says that 666 "is the number of a man," and Revelation 15:2, going into more detail, says it's "the number of his name." So how can a computer become the number of the beast? Or how can any inanimate object be the number of the beast? How can any inanimate object be a sin? Some claim, "well, the first three digits of all computers are 666". So? What does it matter if it's the 1st 3 digits, the last 3 digits, the middle 3 digits, or if three 6's are scattered throughout the entire number? The Bible is clear that 666 is the complete number. The number is not 666395386669487302666, or 75682946009482654. The number is 666, period!
The Mark in the Right Hand
Revelation 13:16 says the Mark will be placed in the "right hand." Again, this is a symbolic term used to denote a position of power. The Lord is said to be at one's "right hand" (Psalm 16:8; 73:23; 121:5, Isaiah 41:13; 45:1; 63:12, Acts 2:25), so the right hand is symbolic for who your Lord is, who you obey. The "right hand" denotes the power of the Lord (Exo.15:6,12, Psalm 16:11; 17:7; 18:35; 20:6; 48:10; 60:5; 63:8; 77:10; 98:1; 118:15-16; 139:10, Isaiah 41:10; 48:13; 62:8, Eze.21:22, Hab.2:16, Acts 5:31), and the power of Jesus Christ (Mat.26:64, Mark 14:62). Jesus is at the "right hand" of the Father (Psalm 110:1,5, Mat.22:44, Mark 12:36; 16:19, Luke 20:42; 22:69, Acts 2:33-34; 7:55-56, Rom.8:34, Eph.1:20, Col.3:1, Heb.1:3,13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2, 1Pet.3:22).
The "right hand" also denotes work (Psalm 78:54; 80:15), and the power of man (Psalm 45:9; 89:13). The "right hand" could be an adversary of the Lord (Psalm 21:8; 89:42, Lam.2:4, Zech.3:1). A right hand denoted falsehood (Psalm 144:8,11). A wise man's heart is at his right hand (Ecc.10:2), and whatever you embrace with the "right hand" is where your heart is (Sol.2:6; 8:3). Similarly to how Jesus places the things he values on his right hand, and the things he despises on his left (Mat.25:33-34), the right hand is symbolic for the things we value more than other things. Is your right hand the mark of obedience to God Law, or to man's law?
"In" or "On"?
Some might claim that Revelation speaks of the mark being "in" the hand, whereas other books speak of the mark being "on" their hand. In Revelation 13:16; 14:9, the term "in" is Greek word #1909, epi, and there is no difference between the word "in" or "on". This same Greek word is translated as both "in" and "on" in Revelation 4:2,4; 5:1; 6:5; 7:15; 9:17; 10:2; 13:14; 14:1,6,14-16; 17:8; 18:19, and 20:6. Notice especially Revelation 5:1 for proof that the phrase "in the right hand" does not mean literally inside the right hand. And Revelation 10:2 for proof that "in his hand" does not mean literally inside his hand. And Revelation 14:1, in which the word "in" as used in the phrase "in their foreheads" is translated as "on" in the very same verse!
Are "things" sin?
What is sin? Sin is a conscious, willful, intentional act or thought of breaking God's Law. Things, in and of themselves, are not a sin. For example, is accepting a sword a sin? No. It is what you willfully do with the sword that constitutes a sin or not. Is a neighbor's wife sin? No, only the act or thought of adultery with that wife is a sin. If John is in a store, and Mugsy takes a watch from a shelf, and placed that watch in John's pocket without his knowledge, and John walks out of the store with that watch, did John commit a sin by stealing that watch? No, because the watch was forced upon him without his knowing it. Is that watch itself a sin? No. Only acts or thoughts are a sin. Not things. The Bible clearly teaches this. If anyone teaches a verse in the Bible that contradicts this, and teaches that a thing is a sin, and that a Christian can burn in hell for doing something unwillfully, unintentionally, and unconsciously, then that verse in the Bible must be studied, for the Bible does not contradict itself.
Those who say that the Mark of the Beast is literal, and that if anyone takes a mark in their hand or forehead they commit sin, is saying that a thing, the mark itself, is sin. They are saying when this mark is forced upon people, even if they take this mark unconsciously, unwillfully, or unintentionally, then it is still a sin. This contradicts the entire teaching of sin in the Bible. They say, "It does not matter what one does in thought or deed with this mark, because this mark, this thing itself, is sin". They are saying it is no longer what you do with this mark, if you accept this mark, because you are automatically guilty. This is not the teaching of God and his principles.
Now, to make a clarification, if the government does force people to accept a literal mark in their hand or forehead, it will be wrong to accept this mark, but not for the reason that the mark itself is a sin. There is no difference between a literal mark issued by the government, or a license issued by the government. They both force you to enter into a legal "contract" with the government to place man's law above God's Law. In other words, if there is a conflict between a man made law and a Law of God, the government says you must obey man rather than God, whereas God says we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). This is the reason why it is wrong to accept anything from the government. If you accept a license, benefit, privilege, certificate, etc. from the government, you are legally bound to obey all of their rules, regulations, ordinances, statutes, and laws, no matter how anti-Christian their laws may be.
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