Sun, Oct 05, 2008


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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
LEVITICUS 23:15-22

Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Leviticus chapter 23 as we are in part 2 of our study on the feasts of Israel. In our first study we looked at the three spring feasts and saw how they all pointed to the first coming of Jesus Christ. Beginning with the feast of Passover we saw how Jesus was sacrificed on this feast day as He became the Lamb of God who has taken away the sins of the world. Then, on the feast of Unleavened Bread, our sinless sacrifice, Jesus Christ was placed in the tomb. And then, on Sunday as the feast of Firstfruits began, Jesus rose from the dead giving us the assurance that one day there will be a bountiful harvest of souls raised in glory!

            This morning we are going to focus on the middle of the seven feasts, the feast of Pentecost. Folks, I believe the first three feasts of Israel focus on the first coming of Jesus Christ, as I have said, and the last three feasts of Israel focus on the second coming of Jesus Christ. Then what does this fourth feast speak of, what is it all about?  Hang in there and you will see what the Holy Spirit is painting for us.  Before we get to our text this morning, listen to this story that will help set the stage for what our focus will be. We are told:

After an accident in which she lost her arm, a girl named Jamie refused to go to school or church for an entire year. Finally the young teen thought she could face her peers. In preparation, her mother called her Sunday school teacher and asked that he not call attention to Jamie. The teacher promised, but when he got sick on Sunday and had to call a substitute, he forgot to tell the second teacher.

At the conclusion of the lesson that day, which was about inviting friends to church, the sub led the class in doing the hand motions to the familiar children's poem:

Here's the church
Here are the people
Open the door
See all the people.

Jamie's eyes filled with tears. A 13-year-old boy realized how she must be feeling. He knelt beside her. With one hand apiece, they supported each other, making the church, steeple, and people. Together they illustrated what real church is.

- Preaching Today

            I think you may have figured it out. Our focus this morning is the body of Christ, the Church and we will see how that all relates to this feast of Pentecost. With that said, let’s begin reading in Leviticus chapter 23, starting in verse 15 and see what the Lord has for us this morning as we look at this fourth feast of Israel – PENTECOST!

LEVITICUS 23:15-22

            We are told that fifty days after the feast of firstfruits came the feast of Pentecost, also called the feast of Weeks or SHAVOUT. This feast took place in the month of Sivan on the Jewish calendar and it corresponds to our May/June, during the wheat harvest. And in this feast they would bring a new grain offering to the Lord and wave two loaves of leaven bread before the Lord. Interestingly enough, in these feasts this is the first time leaven is used and there is an important reason for that and for two loaves of bread, as we will see.

            Keep in mind that this feast only lasted one day but within this day of celebration, there were thirteen different animal sacrifices before the Lord.  You had seven lambs, a young bull, two rams for the burnt offering.  Then they sacrificed a kid of the goats for a sin offering. And two lambs for a peace offering. Apart from those sacrifices, God would not accept their wave offering, it would be an empty day.

            Also, just a little side note here, the feast of Weeks or Pentecost is associated with God giving to Moses the Law on Mount Sinai, (Exodus 19).  And Jewish tradition tells us that the book of Ruth is associated with this feast and it is usually read at this time. That is also interesting to me.

            So how does this all relate to the Church?  First of all, for this feast to take place the sacrifices had to be made, and they were. You see, unless Jesus had died, the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and raised from the dead on the third day, then this feast would be meaningless to us. But He did all that as we saw with the first three feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits!

            Thus, fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ the feast of Pentecost took place. What happened that year after Jesus was crucified? In Acts chapter 2:1-13 we are told,When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs — we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.’ So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’ Others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine.’

What we see here is the empowering of the Holy Spirit for service upon believers and we will see the birth of the church in a few minutes! The problem here is that if this is dealing with the Holy Spirit, how can the feast of Pentecost relate to Jesus? In John 16:7 we are told,Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.  Did you see that? Because of the work Jesus has done and His return to glory, He now sends His Spirit to work in the lives of His people, to empower them for service!

That is the fulfillment of what Jesus told His men in Acts 1:8, before His ascension,But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. You see, these men had all the tools to fulfill the Great Commission that Jesus gave to them back in Matthew 28:19-20, ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’  Amen.

The problem was they lacked the power to run those tools and now Jesus is promising to give them that power by pouring out upon them the Holy Spirit. Back in John 14:16-17 we are told, And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. In these verses we see Jesus speak of the Holy Spirit coming alongside a person, He is with them, PARA in the Greek, drawing them to Jesus.  Once a person comes to Jesus the Holy Spirit comes in them, EN in the Greek. Now, here in Acts we see the third Greek preposition used for the Holy Spirit, EPI or upon them empowering them for the work.

What will happen in our life if we are empowered by the Holy Spirit? We will become witnesses of Jesus, not a command but a simple fact.  You are not to go out and witness, that is not what this verse is all about, but your life will be a witness to others of Jesus!  Remember, Jesus said “ . . . you shall be witnesses of Me . . .” that is what will flow from your life as you live for Him!

Let me explain by giving you this example. Sir Henry Stanley said this of David Livingstone after discovering and spending time with him in Central Africa, “If I had been with him any longer I would have been compelled to be a Christian, and He never spoke to me about it at all.”  You see, Livingstone’s witness went far beyond words, he lived what he believed and so should we, but we can’t accomplish that on our own, we need the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives!  How do we know when we are running low?  It is a simple test, how are we treating people? If there is no love, we are short with them, sarcastic with them, biting people’s heads off, don’t have time for them, and-so-on, you need a filling!  What is the cure? Ask God to fill you and believe it by faith, apply it to your life, live what you believe!  

As you look at the work of the Holy Spirit today, or should I say what some people call the work of the Holy Spirit, you see them tooting their horn, all kinds of bizarre behavior.  That is not the work of the Holy Spirit.  Think of it like this.  The steam in a locomotive does not exist to toot the whistle but to power the engine down the track, to move it along, and the Holy Spirit does that with us, moving us along for God to use, not to toot our whistle but to move us!

But how does this all relate to the Church?  Look again at Acts chapter 2, starting in verse 14 and listen to the sermon that Peter gave and how he was empowered by the Holy Spirit. We are told, But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.” Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him:

 “I foresaw the Lord always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.  Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.” Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’

Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’ And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” Acts 2:14-41.

            Peter, who some 50 days earlier couldn’t even admit that he knew Jesus now boldly proclaims Jesus and the only difference here is that he is now empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring the Gospel message forward!

Now in Acts 2:38-40 we read things that seem confusing and thus, this is important because some have taken this to mean you must repent of your sins and you must be baptized to be saved!  That is not what this is saying and it is not what the rest of the Scriptures are saying.  First of all the word repent, METANOESATE in the Greek, speaks of turning around, turning back to God, which means you were moving away from Him but you now have turned 180 degrees back to Him.  This is a direct command, it is something that MUSTbe done if you are to be saved, turn to Jesus!  Paul says this of the Thessalonians regarding repentance, For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.  I Thessalonians 1:9.  They turned to God and away from idols, they repented!

            Next Peter speaks of baptism, BAPTIZO in the Greek, and this is in the indirect passive imperative.  What does that mean?  First of all, to tie this all together, when Peter says, “ . . . ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.’ . . .” the word for in the Greek is EIS and it can be translated “because of” or “unto.”  In other words, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized for the purpose of identifying you with the remission of sins.”  You see, that is what this is talking about. 

To just show you from another verse, in I Corinthians 10:2 Paul tells us, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  The word into in the Greek is EIS, is the same Greek word and they were identifying themselves with the work and the ministry of Moses.  Here Peter is identifying these people with the forgiveness of sins and it is seen in baptism, not because of it.

            I also want you to notice that in verse 41 we see three thousand souls added to the Church in one day!  You might say that the Church started out with a bang! Now, keep in mind that when the Law was given 3,000 people died for breaking it, God judged them.  But, when the Spirit of grace was poured out 3,000 people were saved!  Is that such a big deal? You bet it is!  It is as Paul said in II Corinthians 3:6, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

            This brings me to not the last point but really the main pint of this study. Keep in mind that two leavened loaves of bread were presented before the Lord in this wave offering. And folks, I do believe this is speaking of the Church that was truly born on the day of Pentecost as we read in Acts chapter 2.  What do I mean by that?

            Paul, in Ephesians 2:11-22 gives us a very clear picture of what this day of Pentecost pointed to, what the Lord has done for us.  Paul wrote, Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

The Jews were the children of God, entrusted with the Words of God, and they looked forward to the coming Messiah.  But, in speaking of the Gentiles before Christ came, before God became man and dwelt among us, the Gentiles had no Messiah, they were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel or they were on the outside looking in, they were strangers to the promises of God’s covenants that He made to His people, and thus, they had no hope! To give you an idea of the hopeless condition they were in, four hundred years before the birth of Christ, Socrates, the renowned Greek philosopher, drank the poison hemlock and lay down to die.  One of his friends asked him, “Shall we live again?” And this dying philosopher could only say this, “I hope so, but no man can know.” And folks, every person outside of Christ is in that condition, they don’t know where they are going and are grasping at things that don’t bring them life, but they don’t have to be in that condition. 

Also, Gentiles knew the Jews did not accept them unless they became a Jew, a proselyte. In fact, in 1871 archaeologists discovered an inscription that was located on the wall separating the court of the Gentiles from the court of the Israelites in the Temple that Herod built. This is what the sign said, “No Gentile may enter within the barricade which surrounded the sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.”

If this is true, that Jew and Gentile are to be one, then why did God separate the Jews from the Gentiles in the first place?  Because through the Jewish people the Messiah was to come. He was not separating them for saving the Jews alone but both groups of people.  In fact, the court of the Gentiles should have been the place where the Jews would win Gentiles to God, share their faith in the true and living God. But instead it was a place where Gentiles were separated and the moneychangers were ripping the people off who came to worship God by charging them high exchange rates.  It was a place of thieves and robbers instead of a place of witness and worship.

            Many churches are doing the same today, keeping people from God because they don’t dress a certain way or act a certain way.  Here at Calvary Chapel all are welcomed and as we go out into the highways and the byways we compel people to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ, not to look and dress like we do, but to become like Christ.

            Did you also notice the Law kept Jew and Gentile apart and Christ has come and abolished the Law of commandments that the Jews used as a source of righteousness and the Gentiles didn’t keep!  The Law doesn’t save us, it just shows us our condition, we are sinners separated from God and only Jesus can save us from that condition as we receive Him as Lord and Savior. And as we do, that middle wall of separation between Jew and Gentile is broken down; don’t start putting it back up again brick by brick!

Thus, the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-23 is fulfilled.  Jesus prayed, I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. 

Now we can negate that prayer of Jesus by building up those walls between people or groups of people or we can allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and fulfill that prayer!  You see, those walls are forever broken down!  It is as Paul said in Romans 10:12-13, For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.  For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’”  And so both Jews and Gentiles have access to God through Jesus Christ, He is the mediator between God and man, the bridge-builder you might say, and thus, both Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ!

            Now, what about those two loaves of leaven bread, what is that all about? Well, we know the two loaves speak of the Jews and the Gentiles coming together into one body, the body of Christ.  The leaven in the Scriptures speaks of sin in both the Old and New Testament. Thus, the Holy Spirit is showing us that Jewish sinners and Gentile sinners will come together in Christ, this is what makes up the church – SAVED SINNERS!  Think about it, how many of you were sinners?  All of you!  Great, now how many of you still sin? All of us do and if you refuse to admit it then you are a liar!  We all fall far short of what God desires but we are forgiven in Christ and called to strive for holiness!

            Now to the last point of this study and that is found in Leviticus 23:22, where we are told, When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.  Keep in mind this verse is found in a chapter that deals solely with the seven feasts of Israel and it does seem out of place. God is instructing Moses about these feasts, how they were to be celebrated and then this little “burp” you might say about how they were to glean their fields. They were to do so by only going through once and not gleaning the corners and leaving the rest for the poor to come in and to gather food for themselves. Kind of a welfare program, but they had to work if they wanted to eat!

            First of all I don’t believe it is out of place, I don’t believe this is a copyist error. God does not make mistakes and if you look at where it is placed, in what feast, it does seem to fit perfectly. I believe the point that the Holy Spirit is making for us here comes right out of this principle of how they harvested their fields. God told them not to harvest the corners of their fields, only go through once and whatever is left over, as I have said, was for the poor of the land to come in and partake of what was left in the fields, to gather it, receive the blessings that were left behind for them.

            I do believe that the book of Ruth gives us a picture of this principle.  You see, Ruth was a gentile and she went into Boaz’s land to glean what was left over, and Boaz was a Jew. In Ruth 2:1-7 we see this played out, There was a relative of Naomi's husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, ‘Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.’ And she said to her, ‘Go, my daughter.’ Then she left, and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers. And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, ‘The Lord be with you!’ And they answered him, ‘The Lord bless you!’ Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, ‘Whose young woman is this?’ So the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered and said, ‘It is the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. And she said, “Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.” So she came and has continued from morning until now, though she rested a little in the house.’

            Here is what I see out of all this. I think there is a beautiful picture.  The Jews were given the things of God, they had it all as Paul tells us in Romans 9:4-5, “who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

            What were they to do with the things of God? Not hoard them, not keep the things of God to themselves, but to share them with others, give them the blessings of God. You see, God’s desire is that all would come to know Him as Peter reminds us, The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.  II Peter 3:9-10.

            Peter is not speaking of a universal salvation here or that all will be saved!  What he is saying is that God’s desire is that all would come to know Him, they all have the opportunity, but tragically not all will and instead of receiving eternal life in Him they will receive eternal judgment, punishment apart from Him!

            But for the Jews, they did keep God to themselves. You had to become a Jew to know God. They were not leaving those blessings of God for the Gentiles, for the most part, until we see the Jewish believers empowered by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and then, look out!  Within 30 years of the start of the Church the Gospel message went throughout the whole known world!

            Folks, may we not neglect our responsibility of bringing those blessings of God to others, the blessings that are only found in Jesus Christ. To hoard the things of God, hide the things of God is wrong. We are to shine forth so that others may see and partake of them!

            That is the feast of Pentecost and as I begin to rap this up, listen to how Allen P. Ross summarizes this feast in his book, Holiness to the LORD. He wrote:

            The typology of the Feast of Weeks is explicated [clearly and precisely expressed] in Acts 2. Luke begins the chapter by saying, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come” (Authorized Version). In the Old Testament the feast was celebrated by bringing the two loaves baked with leaven as firstfruits to the LORD. The people brought to the LORD loaves of bread – what the harvests had made possible, from the firstfruits to the full grain harvest. In time the feast was also associated with the giving of the law at Sinai. In the New Testament, Luke saw the beginning of the church as the fulfillment of what had come to be called Pentecost. Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of firstfruits all foreshadowed the redemption work of Messiah, and Pentecost was the natural extension of Christ’s work. Just as the firstfruits were eventually turned into loaves of bread, Christ’s death and resurrection produced the body of Christ – believers who were gathered into the church on this day of Pentecost.

And just as Pentecost commemorated the giving of the law to Israel at Sinai, the LORD chose this day to send his Spirit and unite the body of Christ. According to the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:24-32) the Spirit will write the law on the hearts of believers. And just as the loaves of bread made with leaven were placed before the LORD, the believers, imperfect in many ways, were presented to the LORD. Here, then, is what the firstfruits of the resurrected Christ produces, and they in turn are the firstfruits of the new creation (See Ephesians 1:10).

-  Allen P. Ross, Holiness to the Lord, p. 424

            Now, after the feast of Pentecost there is a four-month gap on God’s calendar of feasts before the next feast, the feast of Trumpets.  Why is that? Keep in mind that God always has a reason and I believe this four-month gap or period of time is a picture of the Church age as God is gathering a bride for Christ, the Church and He will come back to call us home prior to the start of the seven-year Tribulation Period, which I believe is getting very close!

            Thus, just to get you thinking for next time, what is the feast of Trumpets all about? I will give you a clue – it has to do with the second coming of Jesus Christ for those last three feasts are focused on this period of time. Thus, to understand it you have to know who God is dealing with here and it is not the Church as you may think!

            So Jesus Christ was crucified on the feast of Passover.  He was buried on the feast of Unleavened Bread.  He rose from the grave on the feast of Firstfruits. And He sent the Hoy Spirit on the feast of Pentecost. The Church was born.  These were not just a coincidence; it was and is the plan of God to picture the work of Christ in these feasts He gave to the nation of Israel!

            Now, we have not seen the fulfillment of the feast of Trumpets yet, but make no mistake about it, it will come to pass. Our responsibility is to continue in the work of God, be working in the fields you might say until He meets us in the air or we go to be with Him, because He is coming for His Bride, the Church to take us home and all I can say is, “COME LORD JESUS!”

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