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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - The Visitation

Skip Heitzig - The Visitation

Skip Heitzig - The Visitation
Skip Heitzig - The Visitation
TOPICS: Against All Odds, Bible Prophecy

Our brains are capable of storing some incredible information, but also of storing some worthless information. I think of my own mind. There are lyrics to songs that I learned as a kid that are lodged forever in my brain. I probably will never get them out. There's lines of movies I remember that are also there. There's random facts that I know. And I don't even know why I know them.

But when I compare our brains to God's knowledge and intellect, well, there's no comparison. Because one of the overarching truths we have discovered in this series is that not only does God know everything, not only is He omniscient, but He states sometimes what He knows in advance. He states what is going to happen in the future before it happens. And He does that, He tells us, so that when those things happen, when they come to pass what He predicts, we will know as a signature move that's from God.

We've been looking at that in our series "Against All Odds." We have seen that not only was Jesus' coming predicted by the Old Testament prophets, but that specifics of His coming were announced, the place of His birth, the manner of His birth, where He would live, where He would move, some of those kinds of details. But it's even more precise than that. Did you know there is a whole group of predictions that talk about Messiah's coming to the city of Jerusalem. That He would come in a unique manner, riding a very specific kind of animal on a very specific date. Example, Malachi the prophet in chapter three. He says the Lord will suddenly come to His temple. Zachariah the prophet said that He will come riding in on a donkey. And Daniel the prophet said the Messiah will show up 483 years after the commandment is given to restore and build Jerusalem, which at the time was completely destroyed.

So when the prophets announced some of these predictions, you just had to know that they were scratching their prophetic heads wondering what is that about? Who will be the One that I'm writing about? When will He show up exactly? I know this because in 1 Peter 1, in the New Testament, Peter said "The prophets searched intently and with the greatest care trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when He predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow." So the prophets wrote them down, but they didn't always know who exactly would be the one that would fulfill them.

Well, we come to an amazing section of scripture in Luke 19 where Jesus comes to the city of Jerusalem. But he does so in a very unusual manner. And the story unfolds in four phases. And the first is the presentation. He comes, the Lord Jesus comes, in a very unique manner to this city.

Let's begin in Luke 19:28. "When He had said this, He went on ahead going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass when He had come near to Bethpage and Bethany at the mountain called Olivet that He sent two of His disciples, saying go into the village opposite you where as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. And if anyone asks you why are you loosing it? Thus you shall say to him because the Lord has need of it. So those who were sent went on their way just as He had said to them. But as they were losing the colt, the owners of it said to them why are you loosing the colt? And they said, The Lord has need of him. And they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road."

Now this is a very different way for the Lord Jesus to walk into the city of Jerusalem. He had been there many times before on different occasions. But He walked into the city with His men. On this time, and this time only, Jesus calls for a donkey to be brought from a nearby village for Him to sit on it. And a parade begins that picks up momentum. And the people begin a celebration. I can only think that by now the disciples had learned that whenever Jesus gives them a command, just do what He says. Don't question Him. If He wants something, it's for a reason. They'd learned that by now.

Example. There was that time when a huge multitude had gathered to hear Him teach. And Jesus said, OK, guys, let's feed this multitude. And they had nothing to feed them with. And one says, well, there's a young kid here with a few loaves and fish. But what are they among so many? And Jesus said well bring them to Me. And I'm sure one of the disciples thought why? Why bother? What good is that going to do? Are you going to eat it alone? But the Lord multiplied it. And that was a wow moment to them.

Then there was that time when the Lord said launch out into the deep and let your nets down for a catch of fish. And Peter said look we've been fishing all night. We've caught nothing. But he did it. And they caught so many fish that the boats they put the fish in started to sink. So they learned whenever Jesus wants something, just do what He says. And so when He asked for that donkey, they went and they got it.

Every time I read through this story and I look at all the details that Jesus gives predicting. It's going to be the village next door. The donkey will be at the entrance of that village. Somebody who owns it is going to ask you about it. You tell them this. I think wouldn't it be great if we got direction for our lives like that? Wouldn't you love to wake up and have the Lord just speak to you? I mean speak to you with such intricate detail like well, you're going to go to the gas station today. And you're going to find a guy in a red shirt. He's going to offer you a job. Or there's a car over there. Just take it, and if somebody asks you, just say the Lord needs it.

That'd be a lot of fun. And I don't know which of the disciples went to go get this little young donkey. But I like to imagine in my mind that because Jesus had Peter, James, and John as sort of His executive team that maybe Peter and John went, because we find them paired up a lot in the Bible doing things. And I can just hear Peter saying, now John, let me do the talking. I'm the blessed one, remember? Remember Jesus said blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, that's me. So I'll do the talking because I'm the blessed guy. And then John would rebut him and say, yeah, but I'm the disciple Jesus loves. But whichever disciples went, they went. And they brought Jesus back this young donkey for Him to set on and ride into Jerusalem on.

Now the date is important. The best scholarship tells us this took place in the Jewish month of Nissan on the 10th day of the month. The 10th day of the Jewish month Nissan. That was a very special day when the lambs were selected by the families to be brought home, nurtured for a few days, only to be sacrificed on the 14th day of Nissan for the Passover. So it was the day of the presentation of the lamb to the family who would take it home and sacrifice the lamb. So Jesus comes from Jericho, from the eastern side of the Mount of Olives, up the ascent of the Mount of Olives. He comes to a city that is absolutely jam packed full of people. The best way I could describe it to you is think of Balloon Fiesta crowds in old town, in something about that size.

Jerusalem swelled, we are told, to about five times its normal population. And to give you a flavor of how many people were in that little village, that town, Josephus, a Jewish historian, says that at one of the Passovers around this time, just after this time, but around the same period of time, they sacrificed in the temple courts 256,000 lambs. And it was usually one lamb per family and the traditional minimum was 10 people per lamb. Because you would take the lamb home, you'd have that as your meal, Passover meal. So it was 10 people per lamb. So we can safely say there were between 2 million and 2.5 million people crammed into Jerusalem at that moment.

And the city was prepared. Weeks in advance they fixed the roads up. They fortified the bridges. They would whitewash the tombs. They would make the city presentable. But they were not ready for what they were about to see in terms of Jesus approaching the city. Something else you need to know, and I bet you know this by now, is that when Jesus showed up on the Mount of Olives for that particular Passover and gave the order for them to go get that young donkey, this was not some spur of the moment decision. This was something planned long ago. It wasn't like Jesus said, you know, Pete, John, boys, I've always wanted to ride a donkey into Jerusalem. I don't know, it's just something I always wanted to do since I was a kid.

No this was something predicted by the prophets. It's one of those 300 plus predictions from the Old Testament. This happens to be out of Zechariah 9:9 which states "Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion. Shout, daughter of Jerusalem. See your King comes to you righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

The scholar William Barclay said this was Jesus' deliberate claim to be their King. Why is that? Because kings, though they rode horses in times of war, would ride a donkey during times of peace. When a king entered a city on a donkey, he was extending terms of peace to that city. And Jesus had never done this before. In fact, one of the things we know about Jesus is that He deliberately, in the past, averted, avoided, any overtures of making Him a King. You remember in John chapter 6 after Jesus fed the multitude, and we are told that some people in the crowd wanted to take Him by force and make Him a king? It says Jesus withdrew from their midst. He didn't want that to happen at that point.

Or how about all the times our Lord healed people of some loathsome disease or some crippling disease and his first commandment is don't tell anybody that I did this? How hard would that be to obey that command? You've been a cripple all your life and now you can walk down the street. And somebody goes, hey, what happened to you? I can't say. Well, how did you get better? Don't ask me. I can't tell you. Always, Jesus avoided the fanfare until now. Now, he deliberately provokes a demonstration an unmistakable entry into the city as their King. And they recognize it, because they call Him their King.

So it moves from the presentation into a celebration. Look at the next verse. Verse 36, "As He went, many spread their clothes on the road. Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives going on the other side toward the city, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen saying, blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven and glory in the highest."

John in his gospel adds another element. It says they brought out palm branches. Palm branches. And they went out to meet Him. Now palm branches were emblematic of their desire for deliverance. And here's how I know that. 150 years before this there was another war that took place between their deliverer, Judas Maccabeus and the Assyrians who had control of the city. After Judas Maccabeus won back the city as their deliverer, they brought out palm branches. And they sang. And they turned it into a huge celebration. So bringing out palm branches and shouting this out was their desire for deliverance.

Now notice something in verse 38. Notice the lyrics of the song they sing. "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest." They are quoting Psalm 118. That's a Messianic psalm. A well-established, well-known, psalm of the Messiah. All the Jewish rabbis knew that. So they are bringing the lyrics of this song to bear when Jesus is entering the city on that donkey on that day.

There is another word that is not mentioned by Luke, but is mentioned by Matthew, Mark, and John. Also from Psalm 118, and it's the famous word Hosanna. Hosanna, they said which means save us now. Deliver us now. And so, as Jesus is going down, the crowd, probably one part sang, one part shouted it. The other part, in an antiphony, shared another part. And this Messianic psalm as He goes down the city.

I want you to notice something else in verse 37. "It says the multitude began to rejoice and praise God", with what kind of a voice? What kind of voice? Say it. Loud. Now say it loud. Loud. Loud. OK. Very good. Now you get the idea. So when they sang, when they shouted, they shouted with a loud voice. Nobody in that crowd was doing this, Hosanna in the highest. And here's why. Whenever you sing or you speak in praise to the Lord of heaven and earth, the King of kings, do it with confidence. Do it with all your might. How many times does the Bible say shout joyfully to the Lord? Or in Revelation 5 and they sang with a loud voice. I believe that in our worship, we ought to say it or sing it like we mean it.

Martin Luther, and I've always loved what he had to say about this, he said how has it happened that in the secular field there are so many fine poems and so many beautiful songs, while in the religious field, we have such rotten, lifeless stuff? And if you know anything about Martin Luther, he sought to remedy that by writing fresh new expressions of worship. And he believed that the Lord should be worshipped with vigor and confidence and a loud voice.

But not everybody in the crowd that day agreed. Notice in verse 39 there are some others who aren't into celebration but consternation. Verse 39, "Some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd. Teacher, rebuke Your disciples, they shouted. But He answered and said to them, I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

Now, why do you think the Pharisees were shouting that the disciples should be quiet? It's because they knew what this overture of sitting on the donkey was all about. They knew Zechariah 9:9. They knew the prediction of the Messiah coming on a donkey. They knew Psalm 118, the hosanna song. And they know that this crowd thinks that man on the donkey is the Messiah, which He was. But they didn't. So they said, tell them to be quiet. Which brings up something else. One of the reasons that Jesus presents Himself in the manner in which He does, at this time, this overture, this overt demonstration, that He is their Messiah, their King is to force the Jewish leaders to act, to force them to have some response.

And here's why. We're told in Matthew 26 that the Jewish leaders wanted to arrest Jesus, but they wanted to wait till after the Passover. Once the Passover is done, once the crowds leave, things die down around here, then we'll arrest Him. Lay hold of Him. Try Him. And get rid of Him. But let's wait till after the Passover. But that was not God's plan. God's plan is that His Son, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world would die on Passover. Because Jesus is the fulfillment of the Passover, so just as the lamb is presented on the 10th of Nissan, Jesus, the Lamb of God, is presented to the city on that date. And just as Passover takes place a few days later, Jesus will die on the Passover.

So it is, again, precise timing. But I love verse 40. It's one of my favorites in the Bible. "But He answered and said to them", this is Jesus' response, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out." Listen to it in the Phillipps translation of the New Testament. "The very stones in the road would burst out cheering."

Now if Jesus would have told them to hold their peace, hey, disciples, be quiet, it would have literally been the first rock concert in history. You knew that was coming. Whenever we take tours to Israel, we always stand on the Mount of Olives. One of the commanding views is to bring our group to the Mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem. It's a breathtaking view, right? It's amazing. So you see that and you go, wow. And I always like to say, OK, guys. One of the best souvenirs that you could take home is right under your feet. Bend down and pick up a rock, a stone. Take it home. And tell people this is a stone from the Mount of Olives. Take that stone. Put it on your desk or table or somewhere in your house prominently.

And when people say, what's with this rock here? That's when you can say this is one of those stones that didn't cry out. And they're going to look at you and go huh? What? and you'll be able to give a witness to them and tell them this story. And it's free. You don't have to pay for it like you have to pay for a menorah in the city of Jerusalem. Just pick up a rock and take it home.

Now a word about this crowd. This crowd that is celebrating the Lord Jesus saying hosanna in the highest, when we read through this at verse blush, we think now that would be an exciting worship service to be a part of. They're singing in a loud voice. They're singing the scriptures. Jesus is right there. What an electric crowd. What an ecstatic crowd. What a frantic crowd.

However, in a few days, some of those very people will be part of the crowd that will shout out crucify Him, crucify Him. Because not everybody in that crowd on this Mount of Olives is a true disciple of Jesus. Oh, they're following Him now. They're crying out for deliverance. They're bringing out the palm leaves, because they want Him to be their physical deliverer. But when they discover He is not going to do what Judas Maccabeus did, but that He's going to die for their sins, they just get rid of Him.

Here's the principle. God is not seeking for ecstatic worshipers or frantic worshippers or frenetic worshippers, but authentic worshippers. Jesus said the Father is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. You're in it all the way in good times or bad times. A true disciple is one who worships at all times.

Charles Spurgeon put it this way. "I believe a large majority of churchgoers are merely unthinking, slumbering worshippers of an unknown God. A large majority of church goers are unthinking, slumbering worshippers of an unknown God." Don't let that be true in your case. So the presentation, He comes into Jerusalem on a donkey. The celebration, everybody's all excited, hosanna. The consternation of the Pharisees, the leaders, it leads to the fourth phase of this story and that is Jesus Himself will speak.

But His is a lamentation. Verse 41, "Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it. Saying, if you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace, but now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you, close you in on every side, and level you and your children within you to the ground. And they will not leave in you one stone upon another because you did not know the time of your visitation." What a contrast. The crowd is rejoicing while Jesus is weeping. The crowd is singing. Jesus is sobbing. And when it says that He wept over it saying, in verse 42, the word is ... which means to cry loudly or to lament loudly. One translation puts it "He burst into tears weeping audibly over it."

Now, you know this is only the second time we find Jesus weeping in public. The first was at the grave of Lazarus. Shortest verse in the New Testament "Jesus wept." Second time is here. The first time, He wept privately. This second time, He weeps loudly, publicly, audibly. Why is He weeping? Two reasons, He looks around and He looks ahead. He looks around and there is spiritual blindness all around Him. He looks ahead and He sees what's coming to that city in a few short years. In 70 AD, the Romans will surround the city. And after 143 straight days of a Roman siege, they will leave 600,000 people dead in the streets, and the temple destroyed, the city destroyed.

Jesus sees that. He knows that. He sees their blindness. He looks into the future and He begins to weep. He says if you would have only known. And notice why the weeping. The end of verse 44 "because", here's the reason for it all, "because you did not know the time of your visitation." What does that mean? You didn't know the time of your visitation. It's as though He is holding them accountable as a nation for knowing this day, this time, this visitation.

In my Bible, in my margin, I have a note next to this verse that says Daniel 9:24-26. In other words, the writers, the compilers, of the Bible want me at this point to turn back to Daniel 9 because there's something in Daniel 9 that will explain what Jesus said in verse 44 of Luke 19. And if you know your Bible, and some of you know it well, you know that Daniel 9 gives us the very countdown of the coming of the Messiah.

So you may want to turn to Daniel 9 just now. Or if not, I'll just read it to you. This is the prophet Daniel in captivity in Babylon. An angel comes and tells him the future. The angel's name is Gabriel. And he says in verse 24 to Daniel these words "70 weeks are determined for your people and for the holy city." Do you know this text is scripture in Daniel 9? Have you read it before? "70 weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophesy, and to anoint the most holy. Know therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks and 62 weeks. The streets shall be built again and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the 62 weeks, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself."

Now stop right there. A couple of important things about that prediction, about that prophecy. Number one, it concerns the Jews. 70 weeks are determined for your people, Daniel was Jewish. And for your holy city, that's the city of Jerusalem. The second thing to make a note of, it's a set period of time. Now at this point, if you have not paid attention at all to this message, and I hope you have, I really need you to zero in on the next portion. Because it is a set period of time. 70 weeks are determined. The word determined means set aside or divided or cut off from. In other words, out of all of Jewish history, God has marked a specific period of time to accomplish these purposes.

So what is the time? 70. 70 weeks. 70 weeks. Literally, 70 sevens. It says 70 weeks, but the Hebrew is shabua shibim or 70 sevens. It could be seven days. It could be seven weeks. It could be seven years. But it's 70 sets of seven. Now, we here in the West, we think in terms of 10. Decades. We talk about what happened in the '60s or the '70s. Or can you believe my hair in the '80s? And we think of in terms of decades. In Jewish thought, they thought in terms of sevens not 10s. Seven is very prominent in the Bible. And so you work for six days. On the seventh day, you rest. That's the Sabbath. They would work the land, plow the land for six years. On the seventh year, a week of years, they would then rest.

Now according to some of the Jewish commentaries I consulted, also according to the Mishnah, Remember the Mishnah in previous studies? That redacted oral law that was codified, written down, also the Revised Standard Version of the Bible and others will translate by saying 70 weeks of years are determined for your people and for the city. 70 weeks of years or 490 years. OK? You still with me? In chapter 9 of Daniel, Daniel has been reading the prophet Jeremiah. And in reading the prophet Jeremiah, he understands that Jeremiah predicted that they would be in captivity for 70 years. And he realizes 70 years is almost over. We're going back home soon. He also realizes that the 70 years in Babylonian captivity was due to 490 years of disobedience by the Jewish nation.

That's found in 2 Chronicles 36. God says you didn't keep the Sabbath year, letting the land rest every seventh year, for 490 years. I'm now taking 70 years out of you by removing you from the land for 70 years to give the land 70 years of rest. So the 70 was because of 490 years of disobedience. So the angel Gabriel comes and says Daniel I know that you're thinking about 490 years of disobedience and 70 years of captivity.

Let me tell you about another set of 490 years divided out of all of history where God is going to accomplish these purposes. OK. What is the starting point? The starting point is in Daniel 9:25. "Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah, the Prince." That's the starting point. A commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. OK.

I'm going to throw a verse up on the screen. And that is Daniel 9:25. In the New Century Version, because it makes it easy to understand. Let's read it. "Learn and understand these things. A command will come to rebuild Jerusalem. The time from this command until the appointed leader comes will be 49 years and 434 years", a combined total of 483 years. "Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and a trench filled with water around it. But it will be built in times of trouble. After the 434 years, the appointed leader will be killed." Simply put. There is going to be a commandment, at some point, to restore and build the city of Jerusalem that lay in ruins at the time Daniel got this vision. From that commandment, you can count 483 years into the future and the Messiah will show up.

Now if you're a history buff, you know that there were four different edicts to restore and build Jerusalem. But only one that fits the details of this text. It's found, by the way, in Nehemiah 2. And it was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445 BC. That's attested to by Encyclopedia Britannica and others. March 14, 445 BC Artaxerxes Longimanus gave the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem with its walls and its streets specifically. And guess how long it took to do that? 49 years. Seven sevens were fulfilled.

So it means that from the day that commandment was given, March 14, 445 BC, you count 483 years and you should arrive at the time of Messiah. This so intrigued the head of Scotland Yard's Criminal Investigation at one time, called Sir Robert Anderson, that he decided to compute this. And he took the 483 years. And he put it into days. 483 years in days is 176,880 days. So he began on March 14, 445 BC and counted 173,880 days. And came to a very interesting day in history, April 6, 32 AD, the tenth of Nissan. The time Jesus stood on the Mount of Olives and said boys bring me that donkey. I am going on a donkey ride.

Now, we understand what He meant when He wept and He said because you did not know the time of your visitation. He showed up on the exact day as predicted by Daniel the prophet 483 years after the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. Oh, and by the way, Daniel also said after that, Messiah will be cut off. Right? But not for Himself. The word cut off karath in Hebrew means to get killed because of the death penalty. To have your life ended because of the death penalty.

There's two things I want to ask you. Number one, it's a question I've asked you through this whole series. When are we believers going to just trust the Lord for our future? If a God this accurate, this detailed, this precise can engineer this donkey ride on the 173,880th day after the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, don't you think He can handle your tomorrow? So listen. Yes. Thank you, Lord. All of the promises that God made that He has already kept is the track record that lets us know all the promises He makes to me today He's going to keep in the future.

The second question is simple. How will you respond in your day of opportunity, your day of visitation? Will you be like the fickle crowd? I trust Him one day, but not the next. Will you be like the Pharisees? Stop, I've had enough. Or will you be like the donkey? You go the donkey? Yeah. You know the donkey is the most compliant one in the entire story? You know it's not what donkeys usually do. You don't take an unridden donkey and sit on it, and expect it to go any place. That was a miracle in and of itself. In this story, the donkey is the compliant one.

There was a preacher who went to his church campus on a Monday morning to find a dead donkey. So he immediately called the police department, said I've got a dead donkey on the premises of my church. You guys got to do something. Well, there was no evidence of foul play. So the police said don't call us. You need to call the health department. So preacher called the health department. Health department said it doesn't sound like it's a real health risk. You need to call the sanitation department to have the donkey removed. So preacher calls the sanitation department. Sanitation department says, well, you need to call the mayor of the city because we can't move a dead carcass unless the mayor gives authorization.

So the preacher knew the mayor and knew the mayor was obstinate, stubborn, kind of a nasty guy. But he called him anyway and said Mr. Mayor, I need authorization for the sanitation department to pick up this dead donkey. And the mayor just laid into him. What are you calling me for? It's not my responsibility. You're the preacher it's your job to bury the dead. After a long pause, the preacher said you're right, Mr. Mayor, it is my responsibility to bury the dead. But I always like to notify the next of kin first. Don't be like that mayor who acted like most donkeys act. Be like the one in this story who is Lord, I'm yours, wherever, however, you want me to move and go, I'm in.

Father, we thank you for this incredible story of Jesus with His men as He shows them the fulfillment of several predictions coming to bear in one incident. That the Lord would suddenly come to His temple, and Jesus will do that on the following day as He overturns the tables in that temple suddenly. Our Lord coming into Jerusalem on a donkey as predicted by Zechariah the prophet. Coming on that day when lambs are presented to the nation. On the very day predicted by Daniel the prophet given him through Gabriel, a revelation from heaven, when the Messiah, the Prince, would come before He was cut off. Lord, it's that detail that staggers us. And it's the arrangement of that detail that marvels us. And I pray that it would cause us to trust, and to entrust in our day of opportunity, our lives to You, to quit trying to run our own life, because you gave us life to begin with. And I pray that we would honor You with our lives, with our thoughts. As the psalmist said may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O, God, Lord, take us from this place and use us this week for Your glory. It's in Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

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