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Resurrection of the Dead and the Book of Life

The subject of the resurrection of the dead is not often discussed in the Torah. However, several passages of Old Testament scripture mention an afterlife, even though the word ‘resurrection’ is not used. The oldest mention of life after death is found in the ancient Book of Job. Job was not an Israelite but was from the land of Uz (modern-day Saudi Arabia). Job was a believer in Yahweh as the one true God. In the Book of Job, he asks the question, If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. You shall call, and I will answer: You will have a desire to the work of Your hands” (Job 14:14-15).

 

In chapter 19, Job answers his own question. For I know that my redeemer lives and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25-27). Job was perhaps the first prophet of God mentioned in the Bible, as his knowledge of a “redeemer that stands at the latter day upon the earth” can only come from God. Job believed he would see his redeemer after his death. He would have a resurrected body, as his earthly body would have been eaten up by worms. 

 

Author’s Note: For this article, the definition of ‘resurrection’ is when a person dies or passes away and then at a later time receives a new heavenly/spiritual body made for eternity. Although Enoch and Elijah were raptured from the earth without experiencing death, they still await their heavenly eternal bodies. Also, in the Bible, there are many instances of people dying and being resurrected or resuscitated back to life, but they eventually died again. They also are awaiting their eternal bodies.

 

Many scholars place Job in the patriarchal period, around the same time that Abraham lived. Hebrews 12:17-19 mentions Abraham’s faith and belief in a resurrection.  By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”


Another reference to a resurrection is found in Exodus 3, although you probably wouldn’t notice it. Moses is a shepherd and is tending the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, around Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. It is at this time that he sees a burning bush, but the bush isn’t consumed, so he goes to investigate it. Verse 2 says the Angel of the LORD called to him from a flame of fire from the midst of the bush. Verse 4 says, “God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’”


Then God said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exodus 3:5-6).


Did you get the reference to the resurrection? Neither did I until I read Luke 20:34-38 (and Mark 12:18-27). The subject of the resurrection was brought up by the Sadducees, who believe there is no resurrection. They got into a discussion with Jesus about a hypothetical situation where a woman marries seven brothers and they each in turn die. Each one dies without leaving an offspring, and then the woman dies. The question they ask Jesus is, “Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as a wife.” They foolishly thought they had outsmarted Jesus with this question and he would not be able to answer them.


Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him” (Luke 20:34-38).


In other words, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still ‘living’ at the time of Moses’ supernatural encounter with the Angel of the LORD (the pre-incarnate Jesus). Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary puts it this way, “God declared to Moses that He was the God of the patriarchs, who had died long before; this shows that they were then in a state of being, capable of enjoying his favor, and proves that the doctrine of the resurrection is clearly taught in the Old Testament as well as in the New. But this doctrine was kept for a fuller revelation, after the resurrection of Christ, who was the first fruits of them that slept. All errors arise from not knowing the Scriptures and the power of God.” {1} 

 

David was not only the king of Israel but was a prophet as well. He prophesied and wrote about the Messiah and the resurrection of the dead. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:9-11). The “Holy One” in verse 10 refers to the Messiah, the anointed one, who would come one day. David is prophesying not only about his death and resurrection but the Messiah’s death and resurrection as well.


Fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection, during the Feast of Shavuot (or Pentecost), Peter gave his speech/sermon to the Jews, which quoted David’s prophecy. This Jesus, whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held of it. For David spoke concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because You will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption.


You have made known to me the ways of life; You shall make me full of joy with your countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.


For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he said himself, ‘The Lord said unto my Lord, You sit on my right hand, Until I make your foes your footstool.’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made this same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:24-36).


Here are a couple more resurrection passages written by David. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me” (Psalm 49:15). “You, which have showed me great and sore troubles, shall quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth” (Psalm 71:20).


Isaiah the prophet also wrote about the resurrection from death. “Your dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust: for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (Isaiah 26: 19).


“Come, my people, enter into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself as it were for a little moment until the indignation is past” (Isaiah 26:20). “For, behold, the LORD comes out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain” (Isaiah 26:21).


Many students of prophecy believe Isaiah 26:19-20 refers to the Rapture. They believe Isaiah 26:19 is about the resurrection and translation of the dead in Christ as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “And the dead in Christ will rise first.” They believe Isaiah 26:20 refers to the transfer of the saints to heaven which comes after the events mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” Isaiah 26:21 refers to the Second Coming, which comes after the Rapture.


However, I believe Isaiah 26:19-21 refers to the resurrection of the Old Testament saints at the end of the Tribulation. I think verse 19 is out of order chronologically. It should come after verses 20-21 chronologically. Verse 20 describes the remnant of Israel hiding in Petra, Jordan from the Antichrist during the last years of the Tribulation. Verse 21 describes the Second Coming of Christ to the earth, which ends the Tribulation. Verse 19 describes the resurrection of the Old Testament saints after the Second Coming and the start of the Millennium Kingdom.


Daniel also prophesied and wrote about the resurrection of the dead. The sub-title of Daniel 12 is called “the prophecy of the end time” in the New King James Version. This chapter is a continuation of Daniel 11, especially from verses 36-45 which are concerning the future Antichrist’s exploits. Daniel 12:1 describes a time of trouble for the nation of Israel, And there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Everyone who is found written in the book.”


Of course, we know this is the time of the “great tribulation” as described by Jesus in Matthew 24:15-22 and the time of “Jacob’s trouble” as named by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 30:7. The duration of Jacob’s trouble is given in verse 7, “that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.


The term “time, times, and half a time” refers to 3.5 years (1 year + 2 years + ½ year). Daniel used this term earlier in Daniel 7:25. John also used it in Revelation 12:14. Every time it is used to represent 3.5 years. Daniel 12:11 tells us when Jacob’s Trouble begins and the exact amount of days within those 3.5 years. “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.” 


THE BOOK OF LIFE


The book that Daniel mentions in verse 1 is the Book of Life. The Book of Life contains the names of every person ever born (Psalm 139:16). It is first mentioned in Exodus 32 when the children of Israel were at Mt. Sinai and had sinned grievously against the LORD by making an idol of gold in the form of a calf. Moses asked the LORD to forgive their sin and told Him, but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written. And the Lord said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book” (Exodus 32:32-33).


The book mentioned in Exodus 32:33 is the Book of Life. Those of faith in Yahweh have their names retained in the Book of Life. Their names cannot be blotted out, unlike the unbelievers whose names can be blotted out. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:5).


The “Book of Life” is mentioned eight times in the New Testament, once in Philippians and seven times in Revelation. The Book of Life is a recording of every person who has ever lived. Everybody’s name is written in it at one time. Upon a person’s death, if your name appears in this book then you are saved because of your faith in God and you will have eternal life. However, if your name is not found in this book, then it means your name has been blotted out because of your lack of faith in God.


THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE


Some modern-day Bereans believe the Book of Life is the same as the Lamb’s Book of Life. However, I believe they are two different books. The Lamb’s Book of Life is mentioned three times in Revelation (in Revelation 17:8 it is called the Book of Life from the foundation of the world). The Lamb’s Book of Life is a recording of every person who has been “born again’ by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Every person who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior since the Holy Spirit was given and until the Rapture of the Church has their name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.


A born-again believer’s name can not be blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life. Once someone puts their faith in Jesus, that person has eternal salvation and their name cannot be blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life. Every true believer in Jesus Christ throughout the ages, from the time of the giving of the Holy Spirit, will be raptured and translated. They all will have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Of course, their names will also appear in the Book of Life. 


THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD


Daniel mentions the resurrection of the dead in Daniel 12:2. “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2). Those whose names are written in the Book of Life will have “everlasting life.” Those whose names aren’t found in the Book of Life shall awake “to shame and everlasting contempt.”


We are not told in these verses or any Old Testament scriptures, the exact timing or any details regarding the resurrection of the dead. We are only told it occurs sometime after the people are delivered from the time of trouble per Daniel 12:1-2. It’s not until we read the New Testament that we get more details on the resurrection of the dead. We discover two main resurrections occur, according to different books/authors in the New Testament. The resurrection of the saved is the first resurrection and the resurrection of the unsaved is the second resurrection, and we discover they occur at different times.


“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29). “And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15).


THE FIRST RESURRECTION


The first resurrection is unto eternal life. The first resurrection takes place in four stages and over three millennia.


1) The first stage of the first resurrection occurred nearly two millennia ago when Jesus Christ was crucified and then resurrected after three days and nights in the grave. 40 days later, Jesus ascended into heaven with His resurrected heavenly body. After the resurrection of Jesus, the following event occurred, the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:52-53).


These saints are thought to be disciples (not apostles) of Jesus who died before the Holy Spirit was sent on Shavuot/Pentecost. They accompanied Jesus to heaven when he returned to the Father after His resurrection. They still await their heavenly body.


Paul calls Jesus the first fruits of those who die and are then resurrected to eternal life. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  But each one in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).


2) Christ’s ‘coming’ as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:23 comes in two parts. The first part is when Jesus returns to the sky above the earth and the Rapture of the Church occurs. The “dead in Christ” will be resurrected and translated into their spiritual bodies according to 1 Corinthians 15:51-54. Those Christians living at this time will also be translated and “caught up” according to 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and both groups will accompany Jesus to heaven. I believe Enoch and Elijah were the first fruits of the ‘living’ to be taken up without dying. The Rapture is the second stage of the first resurrection.


Paul describes the resurrected body in 1 Corinthians 15:42-49. “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.  It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

 

 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”

 

Most Bible scholars believe the “judgment seat” (bema in Greek) of Christ mentioned in Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 occurs after the rapture of the Church. This judgment will occur in heaven just after the Rapture and is explained in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, therefore it does not concern our salvation, only rewards for work done in Christ’s name. For more details see Judgment Seat of Christ - Rapture Ready.

 

3) The second part of Christ’s coming will occur at the end of the seven-year Tribulation when Jesus returns to the earth to defeat his foes, both demonic and human. He will then establish His millennial Kingdom on earth. This is when the Old Testament saints will be resurrected or translated into their spiritual bodies, as prophesied in Isaiah 26:19. It is also at this time that the Tribulation saints that were martyred will be resurrected/translated. The Second Coming is the third stage of the first resurrection.

 

“Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).


Many modern-day Bereans believe the agricultural harvests of the children of Israel in the Promised Land are a typology of the spiritual harvests of the saints (both Jews and Gentiles) to be resurrected by the LORD in their appointed times. Jesus was the first fruits of the feast of Unleavened Bread (Firstfruits occurs within this feast), the Church will be the next crop to be harvested at the feast of Harvest (Shavuot/Pentecost), and the martyrs of the Tribulation and Old Testament saints will be the last crop to be harvested at the feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles). These are the three Feasts of the Lord where all male Israelites are to gather in one place to worship and offer sacrifices to the Lord.


4) Although it’s not mentioned in the Bible, it is assumed that those who are faithful to King Jesus at the end of the Millennium will be translated into their spiritual bodies to be able to enter the Eternal Order where a new earth and new heavens will be created according to Revelation 21. This is the fourth and final stage of the first resurrection. The first resurrection is only for the righteous saved.

 

THE SECOND RESURRECTION

 

The second resurrection is only for the unsaved of all ages who do not know or acknowledge God or accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. It will take place after the Millennial reign of Christ where they will be judged by Jesus Himself. This is known as the Great White Throne Judgment. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books” (Revelation 20:11-12).

 

The purpose of this judgment will not be to determine whether or not a person is saved, for that has been settled forever at the time of death. The purpose of this judgment will be to determine the degree of punishment one will face in the Lake of Fire (see Matthew 11:20-24; Luke 12:47-48). The Book of Life will be opened at this time. None of those facing judgment will have their names written in the book, as every unbeliever’s name will have been blotted out by God. The other books mentioned contain accounts of one’s deeds and sins. The degrees of punishment will be determined by what is written in these books.


Authors Note: I believe this is the last time the Book of Life will be opened as all the names in it will be transferred to the Lamb’s Book of Life. The names therein will be those who have believed in Yahweh God throughout all the ages, in other words, the bride of the Father and the bride of the Son. Hebrews 11:10 says “Abraham waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” This city is the New Jerusalem. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the sons of Israel, all those mentioned in Hebrews 11, and faithful Jews and Gentiles from every age will now have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and will be able to enter and/or live in the New Jerusalem that comes upon the earth.


The second resurrection, then, is the raising of all unbelievers. The second resurrection is connected to the second death. It corresponds with Jesus’ teaching of the “resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29). The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

Being thrown into the Lake of Fire is the second death. As I mentioned before, the people who experience the second death will not be listed in the Book of Life for their names will have been blotted out of it. The second death is not death at all in the sense of “passing away,” for you can not escape from this eternal torment by dying again. There is no more death as Death and Hades have been cast into the Lake of Fire.

 

A taste of “wanting to die but not being able to” is found in Revelation 9:1-6. This occurs during the sounding of the fifth Trumpet judgment where scorpions from the bottomless pit sting only those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. The torment from their stings lasts for five months. “In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them” (Revelation 9:6).

 

The second death is the opposite of eternal life with God. The second death is eternal death without God. There is no “passing away” moment of death, only a continuous dying for all eternity. The two choices an individual has are living eternally in the new heavens and earth (including the New Jerusalem) or dying eternally in the Lake of Fire. You get to choose by the decisions you make in this life. “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

 

ETERNAL LIFE

 

If you choose life, you will enter eternity with God. Here is how John in Revelation 21 describes it. Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold,  the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’” (Revelation 21:1-4).

 

The author of Hebrews had this to say about the glorious company those who choose life will keep throughout eternity, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).

 

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

 

Randy Nettles

 

Endnotes:



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Randy- I believe you are correct about the two books of life. Putting it in terms I can relate to, the Book of Life includes all humans ever born physically and named. The Lamb’s Book of Life includes all the names of those who were born again, and part of the Church. Where we differ is in the blotting. I agree the names can be blotted out of the physically born Book of Life of the unbelievers because they chose death over life. However, I believe names can also be blotted out if the Lambs book of life, and I believe that is taught in the Bible. In Revelation 3:5 this is one verse that states that clearly. Here Jesus…

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Well, all we can go on is what the scripture says. Revelation 3:5 calls it the Book of Life.

"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." John was writing to seven churches of Asia Minor listing commendations or condemnations for each church. As with every church, some are not true believers. John deliberately wrote about the Book of Life in Rev. 3:5 to emphasize the seriousness of being blotted out of this book (for unbelief).


The Book of Life of the Lamb (slain from the foundation of the earth) is not mentioned…


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Gary Cox
Gary Cox
Jan 19

Great article Randy. I am fascinated by the book of Life. I have a different take however, Revelations 13:8 says "... whose names have not been written in the book of life..." which is not the same as written in and then blotted out. To me it indicates they were never there to begin with. Also in Revelations 17:8 it says "... are not written in the book of life...", again, not the same as written in and then blotted out. My personal belief is that the book of life and Lamb's book of life are the same book ( the book of life belongs to the Lamb Jesus because all believers belong to Him) and it only contains the…

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Thanks Randy for another great article. So, the issue of names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life is really already settled (before the creation of the world) and what we are waiting for, to conclude the time of the Gentiles, is the actual conversion of that last person? Then we’re truly rapture ready? Thanks again…Maranatha!!!

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Thanks, Randy. This is an excellent summation of the resurrections, and I'm sure I'll refer to it often. Thank you for taking the time to put this together. I had never seen the reference to the resurrection in the "burning bush" and had never really noticed Jesus making reference to it in Luke 20. I just glossed right over that, I guess. I do have a question...What version of the Bible are you using in this article? Do you use just one version, or multiple, when writing your articles? Thank you again.

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Thanks Dean. I generally use the New King James Version as it uses a more modern version of English and it has sub-headings that explain what the chapters are about. I usually compare it to the King James Version to see if any Greek or Hebrew words have been translated differently. I sometimes use other versions to see if they align with the other two.

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DGB
DGB
Jan 18

Great article Randy, except for that misunderstanding of Daniel 12:7. LOL

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