This sermon is number 19 in a series of 27
The Sermon On The Mount - Part 19
"Don't Feed Dogs And Swine"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2002 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Now we've been going through the Sermon on the Mount these Lord's Day mornings, and we've reached chapter 7. We looked, last Sunday morning, at verses 1 to 5 and we read verses 1 to 6, but we've left verse 6 for our dealing this morning. So we're going to read all the verses again to remind ourselves of what the Lord Jesus Christ is saying. In the Breaking of Bread this morning, one of our brethren ministered from that passage in Matthew's gospel where the Lord Jesus was transfigured before three of the disciples - Peter, James and John. The voice came from the excellent glory, which said: "Behold, this is My beloved Son. Hear ye him". That is the reason why we are taking so much time studying the Sermon on the Mount, for these are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Verse 1: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye". Here's the verse that we're looking at today: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you".
Let's bow in a word of prayer together before we look at what the words of the Lord are saying to us. Our Father, we come before Thee again today and we would seek to hear Thy well-beloved Son in whom Thou art pleased. Father, we pray for Thy divine guidance. We pray for the Holy Spirit's presence to linger a while with us. We pray that the voice of God would be heard, and not of man. We pray that the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, that was spoken from His own lips 2000 years ago or so, may be real to us today; that it will not fall on deaf ears, but that they that would hear His voice would heed His voice and obey the word of God. Father, we as Thy people, would hear and follow Him. Help me, I pray, our Father. Bless these feeble words of a man, and take them up and use them we pray, our Father, to the glory of Christ. Amen.
In commentary upon the words of verses 1 through to verse 5 that we studied last week, E.L. Hamilton of Bath, a teacher of the word of God, tells of how he was introduced to three ladies of great Christian reputation. I believe that they were missionaries. But as E.L. Hamilton was introduced to them, they began criticising other missionaries of mutual acquaintance to them, saying how they ought not to do this or to do that or the other. They appealed to Mr Hamilton for his particular opinion on these other women. Mr Hamilton gave them no answer. He was silent before them. So they proceeded and went on criticising these sisters in Christ, until they insisted upon his opinion. After their insistence, Mr Hamilton replied by these words: 'I read in the Revelation of John that it is the work of Satan to accuse the brethren, and I am not going to take sides with him'. What a devastating rebuke that was for those ladies!
But there can be no more devastating rebuke than what we find in the seventh chapter, the third chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew's gospel verses 1 to 5. I hope that you felt the x-ray vision of the Son of God last week as we studied these words. I know I felt humbled as I thought of how so often I myself judge you, judge other believers, without first judging myself with the measure that I judge the rest. In the light of the ministry that we were receiving last week from the Lord Jesus it's very easy for us, right throughout this whole sermon, to learn how to love one another; to learn how to love our neighbour and then go on a little bit further and learn how to love our enemies - those who do not show any love toward us. We've been learning how to graciously mirror the Son of God in His compassion, in His impartiality as He walked among men, and rained upon the righteous and the unrighteous. The Son of God's splendour shines upon the righteous and the unrighteous. He is no respecter of persons, and so ought we to be.
Yet there's a grave danger, as we walk among our friends and our relatives and our neighbours and our work colleagues, that as we try to relate to them, as we try to love them as our neighbours, friends and even enemies, that we make the mistake of thinking that the Lord Jesus is saying that we are to behave towards everybody the same way. In verses 1 to 5 the Lord has been warning us against discriminating against people unrighteously. He has been warning us against misjudging people when we have failed to judge ourselves first. We took a lot of time and had a lengthy discussion as to how we can judge and how we ought not to judge. The Lord is not saying, in verses 1 to 5, especially verse 1, that we are never, as Christians, to judge others or to judge other things. But what the Lord is saying is: 'Judge yourself first'. 'If ye judged yourselves', as Paul says, 'you would not be judged'. Then He goes on in His illustration to say that it is when you judge yourself, when you take the plank that is in your own eye out, you can see more clearly to judge your brother or sister in Christ. In fact, we were going as far to say: if, when you take that plank out of your eye, and you judge yourself, you fail to judge your brother and sister by taking the mote out of their eye. You fail your brother and sister, and you fail the commandment of God.
Judgement is not wrong. Unrighteous judgement is wrong. In fact, a lack of judgement is wrong after you judge yourself. So that leads us into this verse 6, which is saying exactly that. The Lord is telling us that there is a lack of discrimination at times within the life of believers. He's not talking now about over-discrimination, but a lack of discrimination. You see right throughout this Sermon - at least I hope you're seeing it week after week - that the Lord is warning against both extremes in every case. The Lord is speaking to us about a balanced Christian life. As C.H. Spurgeon, the great preacher, said: 'The saints are not to be judges, but equally they are not to be simpletons'. You are not a judge, I am not a judge, but that doesn't mean we walk through life blindfolded and ignorant and naive of what is going on around us.
Indeed, I would say that the general problem in society at large today is lack of discernment, misjudgement and ignorance of the demarcations between right and wrong. People no longer understand that there are absolute rights and absolute wrongs. There is this airy-fairy liberalism; a relativism that what was wrong in yonder year is no longer wrong today. It develops as things become more acceptable to society. Oh, how our world could do with a greater dose of judgement and discrimination. Sad to say, what we find in the world we often find in the church. We find in the church at large there is a lack of discrimination, and much of it is built upon verse 1 of this chapter. People say, and pontificate in a proud way: 'You should not judge others lest God judges you' - but that is ignorant of the entire teaching of this passage. For the Lord is, in fact, saying, in verse 6 especially, that there is a grave need that the child of God does discriminate, that the child of God does judge and discern.
We must discern because we are the sheep of God. The reason why the sheep need to discern is that there are dogs at large and hogs at large, and there are some wolves in sheep's clothing. If the sheep are to survive, and look after one another, and thrive, and grow, and feed off one another, and reproduce, it is important that we discern between the hogs, the dogs and the wolves. It's remarkable, isn't it, if you've been going through the Sermon with us, as you've noted some of the beautiful words of the Lord Jesus Christ, some of His beautiful metaphors and similes and descriptions, how He has described to us that we ought not to worry about what we wear: 'for look at the lilies of the field, for they are arrayed in greater splendour than Solomon in all his glory. Don't worry about what you're fed upon and what you eat and drink. Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor toil nor reap, but your heavenly Father careth for them. How much more shall He care for you'. What a blessing these verses have been! What a description of the beautiful providence of God for His children!
But we see that the Lord Jesus Christ was balanced even in His preaching. It was not all blue skies and good things. But the Lord is not ignorant of the fact that there are those at large within the world and among the church who are dangerous. The Lord's words of beauty give way to these words of ugliness and terror. He has moved from talking about birds and lilies to talking about dogs and swine. Our Lord has spoken some of the most tender and beautiful words in all of literature, but to the other extreme He has also spoken some of the most judgemental, scathing, scorching words that have ever fallen from the lips of mankind. He was outspoken against Herod Antipa - He called him 'that fox'. Of the scribes and the Pharisees that we find as players within this whole Sermon - those who are hypocrites - He says of them that 'you have an outward appearance of holiness. You are like whitewashed tombs. You are clean on the outside yet you are dead men's bones on the inside'. He called them, on one occasion, 'a brood of vipers'. Here He tells us in verse 6 that human beings can sometimes act like animals, and when human beings act like animals they should be called such.
I hope you see the seriousness of the words of the Lord today. Indeed, we will see throughout this sermon this morning the seriousness of an unholy ungodly man in the sight of Christ. But really if we were to narrow it down to what this verse teaches and what we will learn today, it's simply this: we as believers must discern who are the dogs, who are the swine, what are the pearls, what are the holy things, and we must learn not to give any of them to them. Avoid - if I could put it like this - the prostitution of holy things. You will remember, as we have been going through this Sermon, that the Lord Jesus Christ has always had in His mind the law of God - the Ten Commandments and the first five books written by Moses at the front of your Bible. The reason being that the Pharisees accused Him of coming into the world to destroy the law of Moses and the law of God. But the Lord Jesus has said already, and we have studied it in weeks gone by, He said: "I have come not to destroy the law but to fulfil it" - to fill it up, to be the accomplishment, in fact, to make that which was lacking in the law come to fruition. If you are familiar with the book of Leviticus and the book of Deuteronomy, you will know that the various cleansing laws and ceremonial laws and rights that we find within that book were spoken to God's people Israel for this reason: that you might make a difference between clean and unclean, between unholy and holy.
In the light of that, let us try to spot the difference. That's our first thing we're going to do - spot the difference. We need to ask the question: who are the dogs and who are the hogs? Verse 5 leads to verse 6 where we find then these dogs spoken of. If you go through the Old Testament you will find that dogs in Palestine and in Israel specifically in this day and age, they were not like our little 'Spot' the dog at home - our little domestic pet, man's best friend. They were more like wolves: wilder, more savage than the dogs that we have here in the west. They were large ugly pariahs, mongrels, savages and scavengers going about the town in the rubbish dumps, and even disposing of rubbish themselves. As you went through Palestine in this day and age you could see these dogs almost everywhere, prowling about the garbage and the rubbish in the streets. They threatened people, they howled at them, and snarled at them. They were greedy creatures, shameless creatures. In short, a dog was contemptible - everyone hated him! The dog came to be a picture and a metaphor of everything that was contemptible within a human being. In fact, in the Bible, to be eaten by a dog was the sign of God's judgement - and you remember that Jezebel the queen, who was an ungodly woman, was eaten by dogs in the streets because of her rebellion toward God.
So 'dog' is used in scripture as a metaphor, a description of something or someone that is defiled, someone that is unclean, even a Gentile - a non-Jew in the Old Testament. But the phrase is much wider than all that because as we go into Philippians chapter 3 and verse 2 Paul talks of antagonistic Jews as dogs - not just non-Jews, Gentiles, but Jews who were against the Lord Jesus Christ and rejecting His gospel. He says: "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision". Paul again, in the book of Galatians, applies the metaphor of a dog to Christians who hate one another instead of loving one another. He says: 'You bite and devour one another' - the inference is 'like dogs'. Then we find in the book of the Revelation that in the eternal state when heaven and earth shall pass away, and when the unregenerate shall be turned into hell, and God's people shall enter into heaven, that outside the holy Jerusalem were dogs: "for without were dogs". You see how this metaphor doesn't just apply to Gentiles, non-Jews. It doesn't just apply to Gentiles who are unclean ceremonially and separated from God's Israel, but it can even apply to false teachers in Christendom. It can apply to believers who are not walking in fellowship and who are fighting with one another. It can be applied to the unsaved who will be cast into hell. So that's a short definition of the dogs.
Then we look at the hogs, the swine as the Lord Jesus says. These swine are not like the 'little piggies' that we talk about in nursery rhymes, but these swine were more like the wild boar that we know. This again is a savage creature, a vicious creature. In fact, in the gospels we see the contempt that swine is held in as you look at the demoniac of Gadara, for the swine became the chosen habitat of demons. When the demons wanted to go somewhere they had many places to choose, but they chose to go into the swine. You see their contempt. In the Old Testament law the eating of swine, pig, was an abomination unto God. The law said that you were allowed to eat of any meat that had cloven feet - that means a hoof that was separated in two bits. You can't eat a dog because it has a paw, but you can eat a cow because it has cloven feet. But you see, the pig, the swine has also cloven feet, but God gave an extra law in His precious word and it was this: that you are not to eat of any meat that does not chew the cud. So even though the swine and the pig had cloven feet it didn't qualify as a beast that you could eat, because the pig does not chew the cud. So you can see for a moment that the swine could have the appearance of being alright to eat. If we can put it in the Old Testament law language: it can have the appearance of being holy, but it is unholy for it does not chew the cud. Outwardly it may look right, it may look better than the dog, but if I can in the words of Paul, it has a form of godliness but it denies the power thereof. The dog is more obvious because it has a paw, it has not a cloven foot and it neither chews the cud. It has neither the appearance nor the reality of holiness. You can spot a dog quicker as unholy than a pig. Yet the fact of the matter is, what the Lord is saying here is: both of them, whether they have the appearance of holiness or not, are dogs and swine and are unholy. Do you see it?
Of course, we've been learning week after week that the Pharisees were those who had the appearance of godliness, but did not have a relationship with God in their heart. In fact, Peter in his epistle in chapter 2 and verse 21 and 22 says: "For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow" - the pig - "that was washed to her wallowing in the mire". That is the only other verse in scripture where you have the dog and the pig together. Peter is applying to people who profess to be Christians, like to be seen as Christians, and somewhat have believed in their head intellectually the truth of God's word, but there is no reality in their life. That lack of reality is evidenced by the fact that, like a dog, they have gone and licked up their old vomit, their old ways, their old sins; and like a pig, after being washed and cleaned they have gone back to wallow in the mire. Do you see it? The Lord is talking about people who are near to the door of the church. We could say, people who have received some kind of spiritual education yet they have never ever been truly born again and saved. Like the pig, they have been washed in some kind of noble ideal, some kind of moral religiosity. The appearance is there but there is not a cleansing through and through, through the forgiveness of sins. They have received some measure of the truth but they have rejected the ultimate truth of all - the Lord Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.
I hope you spot the difference. Certainly the difference between dogs, hogs and sheep - I'm no farmer but I can tell that much difference! You can tell the difference between the hog and the dog. The hog is the one who may have an appearance of godliness but no reality, and the dog is the one who everybody can see and know is without Christ and God.
Let's look now at why we are not allowed to feed them. We've spotted the difference between these animals, and now the Lord is putting up a sign: 'Don't feed the animals'. You see, when the plank is removed from your own eye, and it allows you to judge and to help in love and in tenderness your brother and sister in Christ, you can see clearly to judge righteously. But you will find, if you have ever done it, and I have done it, that you're not always received well. That can be one of the distinctions between the dog, the pig and the sheep. You see, Proverbs (and I would encourage you to read right through the whole book of Proverbs) in chapter 9 and verse 8 says that the difference between a fool and a wise man is his ability to accept reproof and rebuke: "Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee". The mark of a sheep is that when you rebuke it, it follows you. The mark of a hog and a dog is when you rebuke it, it turns to bite you.
What are these holy things that we are to feed them upon? What are these pearls that the Lord Jesus Christ speaks of? If you look at verse 6, and that word 'holy': "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs". The word 'holy' in Greek is 'hagios', which is made up of two Greek words. One is the word 'a', and the other word is 'ge - 'a' means 'without', it's a preposition, and 'ge' means 'earth'. So the word 'hagios' - 'holy' in the Bible - means 'without earth'. Do you see it? Something that is apart from the earth. Something that is opposite from that which is common, and which is material, and which is natural around us - but something that is above the earth, something that is heavenly, something that is supernatural. If I was to define holiness to you today, or something that was holy, it simply means something that is separated to God; something that is distinct from the things of mere men; something that is special, and God has marked to be special. The word 'saint' is not reserved to Mother Theresa or Saint Augustine or anything that the Roman Catholic Church would teach us, but the 'saint' means any person who has been saved by the grace of God and separated for God's use. That has the root meaning: apart from the earth. Sanctify is the process of being separated to God. Holiness has the root word. 'Hallowed be Thy name' has the same root meaning. So the Lord is saying: 'Don't give that which is without the earth, apart from the earth, beyond the earth to the swine and to the pigs'.
I believe that the holy things that are spoken of here by the Lord Jesus Christ are things that are exclusively owned by the believer; truths that God has given us. They're without the earth, they're not from earth. We haven't thought about them, we haven't divined them, but they have been given by God to us for our special use - holy things, the general truth that has been revealed to us from God. That's the holy thing.
The pearls - if you look at verse 6 you will see that they are described as 'your pearls'; not just 'pearls' but 'your pearls'. There's something personal about this and I believe that this is outlining God's personal blessings to us; if you like, personal experiences which you have received from God and are precious to you. Do you see what we're separating them here to mean? Holy things are God's general truth and teaching, the things revealed in His word that are given to us for our learning and for our blessing. But these pearls are ours, they are personal experiences that God has given to us to enjoy from Him. The big question is this: why should we not feed these to the dogs and to the swine? As if we need to ask that question! If you think about it for a moment, I happen to believe that in the mind of the Lord Jesus, He is thinking about throwing a pearl to a pig. If you threw a pearl to a pig, I imagine it would think it was some kind of nut or pea or bit of meal, and it would begin to attempt to eat it. Then it would find that it is inedible, and perhaps it would spit it out if it had put it in its mouth. Or it maybe only would sniff the thing to find out if it was food at all and if it smelt good, and if it didn't find it, it would turn on its heel and trample it underfoot. Do you see it? Can you see the animal first glaring hungrily at this pearl, and thinking that they're about to gob down some food? But then when they pounce on the pearl you can see the swift disillusionment that sets in, for it's too hard to chew. It's tasteless. It's unappetising. So they turn and trample it underfoot!
D.A. Carson, who is an eminent Bible scholar and preacher, in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, says this - and he's from the nation of Canada, so he knows what he's talking about - he says: 'Camping can be enjoyed in the vast wilderness areas of North America, but one of the rules to be observed unfailingly is: don't feed the bears. Feed the ground squirrels, feed the deer, feed the racoons, even feed the coyotes, but don't feed the bears. If they are not satisfied they will turn and tear you to pieces'. Listen, the Lord is saying: the riches of God's truth that He has given to us to use exclusively for ourselves as the church of Jesus Christ are not for the swine; they are not for the dogs. The personal truth that God has given to you, beware how you share it with other people because they can turn on you and they can tear you. But the whole point of this teaching is this: there are persons - not everybody - but there is a type and a group of people within the church who masquerade faith in Jesus Christ, and they are persistently vicious, they are irresponsible, they are unappreciative - why? Listen: because the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.
What is the Lord telling us? Please bear with me for a few moments, because I want you to understand this important teaching from the word of God. As people who are privileged to receive God's truth, if you are saved and converted by His grace, you've received the precious truth of the word of God, truth held by God's people down all the ages, it is our property! It's given for the people of God. The Old Testament priests had the privilege of entering into the tabernacle and the temple to approach the holiness of God in the sanctuary. That was their privilege, it wasn't everybody else's privilege. In Psalm 137 the exiles beside the river of Babylon wouldn't sing a song for the heathen, they wouldn't sing the songs of Zion because they were unworthy of it - they were different than that, these were not the songs of drunkards. Can you imagine the Old Testament priests sacrificing the meat on the altar and then throwing the meat to the dogs? He couldn't do it! It's holy!
In the New Testament, look at our Lord Jesus, the Master didn't do miracles for unbelievers - He would not do miracles for men and women who would not believe. The meanings of the parables of the Kingdom that you find in Matthew 13 were hidden from the Jews, but explained privately to His own disciples. The vital truths regarding the Father and the Son were hidden from the wise and the prudent and revealed unto babes. The prophetic discourse in Matthew 24 was spoken only unto the disciples. The holy discourse in the Upper Room was suitable for the Lord's apostles only after Judas Iscariot had left them! He was not transfigured before the vulgar crowd, but before His own people. When He rose from the dead gloriously, He was not seen by the unbelieving world after His resurrection.
There are those vicious and unappreciative people of that disposition, and I believe perhaps it's the character of this age. Cynical mockery against God and His word; intellectual arrogance; their love of moral decay; they vaunt their self-sufficiency in the face of God - and they are utterly impervious to the person and the work of Jesus Christ God's Son. These people are in grave danger!
Can I say to you: do you realise that there are people in this world who will never be saved? Note what I'm saying: not 'cannot' be saved, but 'will never' be saved - because they have rejected the truth of God's word. Now don't misunderstand what I am saying, we must take the gospel, as Christ has said, to every creature. But what the Lord is teaching us here is balance - although we go and tell every man, woman, boy and girl that Jesus died for them, and that that death is sufficient to cleanse them from all their sins - we must never cheapen the gospel by a ministry that lacks discernment! Discern the difference between holy and unholy. We are not to endlessly take the gospel to those who continually scorn it. It's done in respect for that which is holy, not in contempt for that which is unholy - the dogs and the hogs - that's not why the Lord says it, but because these things are holy and God is holy, we should never allow holy things to be cheapened. Never.
My friend can I, in these closing moments, apply this to our lives in five ways. One, quickly: those who give holy things unto the unregenerate - what am I talking about? I'm talking about churches that will baptise unbelievers, babies and all. Those who will give the bread and the wine - the Lord's Supper - to those who are eating and drinking damnation upon themselves because they are not converted. Those who will give church fellowship to unbelievers, participation as deacons and elders, and ministers even of God who do not believe! Those who fellowship with those who are in error are giving pearls and holy things to dogs!
Two: we can cheapen holy things as the people of God. When we do not attend the Lord's Table, when the diaconate becomes a chore rather than a privilege, when divine truth is scorned, church fellowship is seen as unnecessary - an extra, rather than the apostle's holy doctrine. Three: we must beware of those who have crept in unawares to pervert doctrine and to divide brethren, and we must deprive them of the privileges of God's holy things! Four: we must beware of baring our heart to everyone, because many a man or woman can turn and rend you. Five: when witnessing in the gospel, please remember to respect Christ and His gospel more than the sinner. Love the sinner with all your heart, but don't cheapen the gospel for anyone! Zealous soul-winner beware of giving precious things to the wrong people - but apathetic Christian don't use this verse to see everybody as a swine and a dog, in order to get you out of executing the gospel commission. There're so many Calvinistic brethren who take these verses to an extreme - don't do that!
Let me say this: what, perhaps, holy things cannot do, a holy life will do - a holy life. My friends, I don't want you to see dogs and pigs - it's very hard for me to define this, but let me tell you this: look unto Jesus. Look at what He did, the divine discernment of the Master, His patience with Thomas and Peter, but for Herod Antipas He didn't have one single word! His curse upon Capernaum, for they didn't listen to His messages, they didn't apply the lessons out of His miracles and mighty works to their lives. He instructed His own disciples not to remain too long with those who would reject the preaching of the gospel. In the parable of the fig tree He told of how God has patience with men, but it is not endless! My friend who is unsaved in this gathering, listen to me: God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish - but this verse is teaching you today: "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy". Can I ask you: if Christ will not allow His servants to plead with you indefinitely, do you think His Spirit will? I think not.
Let us bow our heads. Let me say that the Lord Jesus is full of love and compassion for you dear soul, full of love. He couldn't be any more full of love, for He died on Calvary's cross to save you. But let me tell you this: with such great love shown toward you, there's a great responsibility upon you to repent of your sin and put your faith and trust in Him. My friend, if you do not do that, there are grave consequences - not only is there hell, but there is the prospect of going through life with no one ever speaking a word in the gospel to you again. Will you come to Him today?
So-called believer who is walking in error, would you examine yourself to see if you're just acting like pigs and hogs and dogs, or whether you're really a sheep or not? Some behaviour in Christians is beyond my imagination. Let us all examine ourselves, that we may be found in the faith.
Father, we thank Thee for these scathing words of the Lord, but they are so necessary. We thank Thee that greater love hath no man than Christ, for He gave His life for us, His friends. But Father, help everyone in this gathering today to realise - whether believer or unbeliever - the great responsibility there is to follow truth and follow Christ. Give grace to decide, and bless us now as we part, in His lovely name we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the nineteenth tape in his 'Sermon On The Mount' series, titled "Don't Feed Dogs And Swine" - Transcribed by Trevor Veale, Preach The Word.
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