21 Jan 2024

Priest Needed – No DIY [Leviticus 8-10]


No man can draw near to God on his own. We are so sinful that we can't. God has ordained that we need a mediator. The Levitical priesthood teaches the qualifications of that mediator for us all- he must be called, clothed & consecrated. And Jesus absolutely fits the bill! He is called, clothed & consecrated to be our Great High Priest. In fact, He is the superior priest after the order of Melchizedek. He alone is the only one who can lead us back to God. Besides that, He has also made us all a royal priesthood, to serve God and to serve a needy world.

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As I was praying, Leviticus is not an easy book to go through by any means because it's somewhat unfamiliar to many people and the lessons are not easy to draw out. Nevertheless, we'll look at chapters 8 to 10. I urge your attention. I think I'll preach short and sharp because it's difficult, it's going to be laden with a lot of verses, so I want to make it as concise as I can so that you can absorb better.

I start with a story. There was a leaking tap that I have and the, I'm a stingy fella and I didn't want to uh, just get a handyman to fix it, if I can fix it. I've never fixed it before, I do not know how to do it, but thank goodness these days we have YouTube. So I went on to YouTube and searched out how to fix a leaky tap yourself. And after some fiddling around on YouTube, some research, I realized that most of the time a leaking tap is because there's a faulty cartridge. This is the main mechanism there.

So I then went online to find out where can I buy a cartridge and it should be a cartridge that fits. It's not every cartridge is the same. So after some hunting, searching around, it's a waste of time, but, uh after some hunting, searching around, I found a place in some industrial park, went to buy a cartridge and inserted it into the tap and voila, it worked. The leaking tap is fixed. I could do this myself, I DIY, I'm so proud of myself because I'm not a very handyman, I'm lousy with hands, but I'm thankful it worked. I was really feeling good about myself.

But even though I can DIY and fix a leaking tap, no one in this world can DIY and find his way back to God. This drawing near to God is the main theme of Leviticus.

Last week we learned that in order for man to draw near to God, he needs to understand the principle of saying, I'm sorry. Because he needs to know that God is holy and we are not, we are rebels. And you just can't come to God as you are. You've got to humble yourself and recognize your sins that are ever before Him.

So the offerings, the five offerings mentioned in Leviticus 1-7 really teach us that in order to draw near to God, you need to learn to say sorry and thank you.

Today in chapters 8-10 we learn, that in order to draw near to God, you can't do it by yourself. You need priests, you need mediators. You see, the Israelites are not supposed to bring an animal back home and slaughter the animal and say, God, here is my sacrifice to You. It's not accepted, because Israel's got to bring their offerings, their sacrifices to the priests at the tabernacle and only the priests can offer their sacrifices on behalf of Israel.

The message is very clear. We are so sinful. God is saying to Israel, you are so sinful, you are not fit to come to Me with your offerings. There must be a mediator, a priesthood who will serve on your behalf. And that's the only way man can come to God.

Priest Needed - No DIY

So in Leviticus chapters 8-10, we are learning that there is no DIY allowed when it comes to drawing near to God. You need a mediator. You need a priest. And we are going to learn at the end of chapters 8-10, that Jesus is our Priest today. But before that, let's honor the Scriptural passage here, find out the principles of priesthood, understand what qualifies anybody to be a priest, and then see all that fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Alright? So it's rather difficult, technical, because there are a lot of things to talk about, about the priesthood, but I want you to see that the reason why we say Jesus is our Priest is not just a whim of fancy, but it is built upon rock-solid foundations as is described in Scripture.

1. The Calling

So let's begin. First of all, we see that there must be a calling to priesthood. So, nobody can volunteer to be a priest. Nobody can say, suka-suka, I want to be a priest, I become a priest, when it comes to serving the God of the Bible. The priest must be called. The priest must be appointed. So we see in Leviticus 8 that the LORD spoke to Moses saying, take Aaron and his sons with him. Why? Because they will be the ones chosen by God to be priests. No one else can be a priest.

By the way, later on in Israel's history, there are some kings who are so arrogant and proud that they decided they will also be a priest. But God judged them, because priesthood is not something you can volunteer for. Priesthood is appointed by God. We know this also in Exodus chapter 28, where it says, bring near to you Aaron your brother and his sons with him to serve Me as priests.

Now what are priests supposed to do? What's their JD? What's their job description? Well, you can think of it this way, priests are mediators between God and man. They serve in between God and man. So from the angle of God to man, they deliver God's Word. You are, you Levites, you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes.

So from God to man, they deliver God's Word. From man to God, they deliver gifts and sacrifices, as we learn in chapters 6 and 7 in particular, but it's made explicit in Hebrews 5. Every high priest chosen from among men is appointed, again it's a call, to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. So number one, a priest is called, is chosen, is ordained, it cannot be volunteered.

2. The Clothing

Number two, a priest must be properly attired. He must be dressed correctly. Now this is a picture of a army general. His, his uniform is very beautiful. His uniform is very colourful. His uniform is filled with lanyards, epaulets, badges, and so on and so forth. I am 100% sure, every badge, everything that he's putting on here represents something, correct? Cannot be suka-suka eh. The general feels, I, I like this design, then he puts on, he, he must have earned it, he must have kind of deserved it, he must have been to some exercises and gotten these badges of recognition.

So they mean something. I say that because when you look at the attire of the great high priest, they also communicate some things. They communicate some values and attributes of a great high priest.

So we read about the attire of the high priest and his sons in Leviticus 8, verses 6 to 9. We see first of all they were washed, they took a cleansing. And then they put on a coat, sash, robe, ephod, and they had this breast piece on him. And in the breast piece there will be this urim and thumim, which are devices to allow them to know God's will and guidance for their life or for their ministry. And then we see a turban on his head where there is a golden plate.

So in a very succinct way, Moses wrote in Leviticus what he had already explained in detail in Exodus 28. And attire, as best as we know it today, looks something like this. Having a closer look, we see from top down, that he wears a headgear, a turban, where there is this golden plate with the inscription, Holy unto the LORD, or Holiness unto God. This is the Name of God. We call this the Tetragrammaton, just four letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Uh, that's, that's the Name of God.

Today we kind of add vowels to it, to these, and call the Name of God Yahweh. But actually this is the Name of God. And this is told to us in Exodus 28, you shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, Holy to the LORD.

So I suppose, now this is not explicit, but I suppose that this headgear identifies the great high priest to be someone who is dedicated to the service of God. He is set apart for the ministry unto God, dedication.

The next thing we observe in the uniform is his shoulders. The Bible tells us that there are two stones which has six names on each stone on the shoulders. The six names are the six tribes of Israel. So both sides will be the twelve tribes of Israel. Again, in Exodus 28, Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for remembrance. So whenever the great high priest comes before God, he remembers he's representing the nation of Israel, the twelve tribes. This is his duty. He's dedicated to serve God on behalf of the people of Israel.

But this is not just a duty, this is also something to be close to his heart. Therefore, he has this breastpiece that contains twelve stones that represent the twelve tribes of Israel. And again, I think this is given to us, so shall Aaron, so Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart. So they are to be his desire. They are to be the people he loves and thinks of, not just out of duty. This is his desire.

Now in this breastpiece, there is also this urim and tumim. As mentioned, they are devices that the high priest sometimes uses to discern the will of God. I suppose this tells us that the high priest acts in accordance to God's will. He discerns God's will, uh based on what God has ordained for him. He does not act upon his own whims and fancies.

The last piece of that attire I want to speak about is the sash or the belt, the girdle. And in the Bible, that sash or girdle is often used to depict work, because you tie your rope with that girdle, saying, I'm ready to work. It speaks perhaps of the diligence of the great high priest, he's always at work.

So if you look at the high priest, it may look queer, huh, unusual. Why this attire? Why can't it be T-shirt and jeans? Well, because God wants to communicate that the high priest who is going to act on behalf of Israel is to be someone dedicated to God, someone who has clear sense of duty and who loves the people of Israel, someone who discerns God's will, someone who is diligent in ministry, and someone who is dignified because the attire is for glory and for beauty.

So, who can be a priest? Well, he's got to be someone who is called by the LORD. It cannot be volunteered. It must be something God or someone God has appointed. Number two, a priest has to have the right values as depicted in the clothing, the attire, the garments he wears.

3. The Consecration

a. Anointed

Thirdly, a high priest or a priest must be someone who has been consecrated. In other words, he has gone through a process by which God endorses and inaugurates his ministry. This is what is given to us in the bulk of chapter 8 and 9, in Leviticus. So, what do they need to go through? Number one, a priest must be anointed.

The, the word anointing simply means application of oil. So, the tabernacle where the priests operate is to be anointed, and the things that are inside are also to be anointed with the anointing oil. But not just the tabernacle, but the priest himself, Aaron, will also be anointed in order to be consecrated or set apart, be ready to serve God. Aaron and his sons will also be consecrated in such a manner, anointing oil will be sprinkled or applied upon them.

So, this may be a picture of how that can be done, and this anointing is a picture of the power of God via the Spirit upon the man's life. So, Aaron is going to serve, not just in his own strength, but in the power that the Spirit provides. The blessing of God must be upon him, in other words. So, he is consecrated with that anointing.

b. Atoned

But besides being anointed, the priests, in order to serve, must also be atoned for, because the priests are ordinary men, like everybody else, and therefore they are sinful. And sinful men cannot really act as mediators. They are filthy themselves. So, in a special way, God has to atone for them, ceremonially speaking. There must be that process of cleansing and purification with regards to sin.

So, a lot of chapter 8 and a lot of chapter 9 is about offerings. The killing of the animal, so that the blood would then be applied to the altar, and God said, all this took place to make atonement for you.The word atone is to cover, is to placate, is to appease God's wrath.

So, Aaron and your sons, and the Levites, they are to serve Me. But in order for them to serve, there must be an atonement for them. So, you read a lot about the burnt offerings, the sin offerings, the peace offerings, animals killed, a lot of it. And the blood, not only is to be applied to the altar, the blood will also be applied to his right ear, right hand, right foot.

Right, in the Bible, speaks of dominance, strength, favour. And I suppose in all these three organs to remind the priests that they are to hear exactly what God says, they are to serve exactly where God tells them to serve, and they are to go where God commands them to do.

So, the priests are set apart by the anointing, by the cleansing as depicted by the sacrifices. And this did not just take place over one day because on the eighth day, there is another round of sacrifices for another round of atonement. It communicates you really need to be atoned in order to serve as priests.
Now, all that done, called, clothed, anointed, and atoned, everything done, the process, in a sense, is over, because God now sends a fire out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar. Everything is burned up. This is a fire of acceptance. And the people knew it because when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. God has inaugurated the priesthood. It is now open for business.

So, the priesthood is now established. We see that it is established via a calling, via a clothing, and via a consecration.

4. The Caution

But chapter 10 raises the ante, as it were, because there's this story of tragedy that is meant to be a caution. From now on, even though it's inaugurated, don't be careless and chin cai when it comes to serving God in the priesthood. We read about Nadab and Abihu. They are two sons, two eldest sons of Aaron. And I think they were presumptuous or arrogant or downright disobedient because the Bible says, in verse 1 of chapter 10, they came before the LORD and offered unauthorized fire.

In some versions, it's called strange fire or foreign fire. So, they took it upon themselves to try something new. We are not exactly sure in what way is this fire unauthorized. Perhaps the source of the fire is not what God has commanded, which is to be fire from the altar. They took it somewhere, they may have incorporated some false idol worship elements into it. Whatever it is, it is clearly not authorized. It is DIY. And it is not what God has commanded.
And so, the Bible tells us, fire again came from before the LORD, but this time, not as a fire of blessing, but as a fire of judgment. And it consumed them and they died immediately before the LORD. And God then add, added His comments to this event. Among those who are near Me, I will be sanctified, and before all the people, I will be glorified. So, My priesthood will not be tempered with. It must be exactly the way I've ordained it to be.

So, this kind of is a convenient, good point and juncture for me to say, that from chapters 8 to 10, this phrase is very repeated, often repeated, as the LORD commanded Moses. This is the tone and emphasis of, of the writer because it recurs so many times in chapters 8, 9, and 10. There is no way anyone can serve as priest except the way God has designed it to be.

So, the message, I think, is there is no DIY. You can't do it at home and the priest cannot do it any way they like. For man to draw near to God, there must be a mediator, a priest. And the priest must be someone who is called. In that case, in their case, must be Aaron and his family and the Levites. A priest must be properly clothed with the right values, as we have mentioned. A priest must be consecrated. There must be that anointing and that atonement. And there must be a clear heeding of caution that there is no DIY allowed.

So then, you may ask, what has this got to do with me? Huh, Leviticus' about the Levites so long ago, what's the relevance? I am saying, you and I today, if you want to draw near to God, you need a priest, you need an agent.

Today, when you want to buy a house, you may want to have an agent, but it's not absolutely necessary, can DIY also if you know how to and if you want to try to. But when it comes to drawing near to God, you cannot DIY. You must have a mediator. And who is the mediator? A lot of people think that pastors are mediators. I have friends, badminton friends, we are in a chat group, and when we join a new group, my friend will say, 神父要来了。 神父? I say, no, I'm not 神父, I'm not a priest. But that's how people think. They think that if you are serving in the church, you are the priest. I'm not your priest. There's only one who is suitable to priest, to be the priest for your life. And who is he? Jesus Christ.

Now, we all say Jesus Christ, but how do you know it's Jesus Christ? Is there a solid basis to say Jesus is the Priest? Because to many people today, they are still waiting for another man to be priest, to be the mediator, to be the savior. The Bible gives us rock-solid evidence, even based on the criteria that is set in Leviticus, to discern if Jesus is to be our Priest. So let me show that to you.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy that there is one God and there is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. So only one, for man to reach God or to draw near to God, you can only have one Mediator, there is only one suitable Mediator, and the Bible says it's Christ Jesus.

The Hebrews author also says we have a Great High Priest and His Name is Jesus, the Son of God. So the Bible states that Jesus is the Great High Priest. Is He someone who fits the bill? Is He someone who is called? I say to you, yes, He is. Again, Hebrews, no one takes this honor or this honor of priesthood for himself. But only when called by God, just as Aaron was. We read that in Leviticus 8 and Exodus 28. Aaron was called. He did not volunteer. And the Bible goes on to say, so also Christ did not exalt Himself to be made a High Priest, but was appointed by Him.

So it's very clear, Jesus is appointed as a High Priest. Is He called by God? Yes, He is, He's appointed. And He's appointed to do what? He's appointed to make sacrifices for us. The Bible says to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. In Hebrews 10, He offered for all sin time a single sacrifice for sins and He sat down. That is a picture of the priesthood that He performs. He offers the sacrifice and because it is done, He sits down.

So Jesus is our Great High Priest. Criteria number one, he must be called. Does he fit? Yes, He fits. He's appointed by God.

The second one is a little bit longer but I will not spend much time on it because I assume you're familiar. Is Jesus appropriately clothed? Now of course you say he wears normal clothing, we don't see him with a breastplate with twelve stones. When I say clothed, I think He is vested with the right values. So let's recall the values. Is He someone dedicated to .., to the Father? Yes, because He came not to do His own will but the will of the Father. It's said many times in the Bible.

Is He someone who has a sense of duty that is here to save Israel and His sheep? Yes. Does He keep them upon His heart? Yes. Is He someone who seeks the will of the Father at all times? Yes. I mean, I won't show you the verses, I, I trust you know where they are. Is He someone who serves with diligence? Yes, because He says, I came not to be served but to serve and to give My life a ransom for many.

Jesus is also clothed with dignity and beauty and glory as John tells us in John 1. He's, He's, He is the very glory of God, full of grace and truth. And His beauty is manifested at the Mount of Transfiguration and His beauty will be seen one day when He returns for us. Jesus is vested with all the right values. He is our suitable High Priest.

Finally, is Jesus someone consecrated? Is He anointed? Is there an occasion where He's anointed with oil? No, but He's anointed with the Spirit. That's what the oil symbolises and He's anointed not with the symbol but with the actual Person of the Holy Spirit in Matthew chapter 3. He saw the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. And then we are told in Luke 4, the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me, empowered Me to do all that I'm going to do.

In a sense, Jesus relinquished His very own divine power and acted upon the power of the Spirit who has come upon His life. Our great High Priest is fully anointed with the real deal.

So a priest has to be consecrated by being anointed. A priest has to be consecrated by the atonement. But this is where it is unique. Jesus never was atoned. Why? Because He never had any sin. So there is no need. There is no need for atonement. This is made explicit in Hebrews 7. He has no need. Like those high priests, you know Aaron, they all need a lot of ceremonies, a lot of animals to die, because they are all sinful. But Jesus, no need. He doesn't need to offer sacrifices daily, first for His own sins. He is our High Priest who is holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners.

So this is where Jesus is absolutely superior. And mind you, there is no need for caution, because Jesus was faithful to God who appointed Him. There is never a wrong step our Great High Priest made. Is He our suitable High Priest? Yes. He's called, He's clothed, He's consecrated. None of us. None of us. No one else in this world will ever fit the bill Jesus did.

So the question now is, eh, if Jesus never sinned, can He understand you and me or not? Because He doesn't understand my sufferings, my pains. That's not true. The Bible makes clear that we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

So, whilst He is sinless, He is not without feelings, because He has been tempted and He feels the force of temptation. In fact, He feels the full force of temptation none of us have. Because at any one point of time we have given up to temptation before. He has never given up to temptation. He has felt it all. He knows our weaknesses. He sympathizes with us.

And you know the former priests, they all die. One by one all die. So no one continues. But Jesus, He holds His priesthood permanently because He continues forever.

So this is not easy. But just like if you want to choose a doctor, or you want to choose a good tuition teacher, you want to choose a good agent, you all look at qualifications, you look at his background, you look at his track record. I want to say to you, our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, has a wonderful track record. A flawless, immaculate record that none of us will ever have. So we say for certain, Jesus fits the bill. He's our Great High Priest.

Finally a little comparison, if I may. Jesus is a priest, fit to serve like the Levites were. But Jesus is superior to the Levites in many ways. The Levites, their work was never done. Because their animal sacrifices can never put away sin. Jesus' work, done. One time, sacrificed Himself, He can sit down, because His sacrifice is efficacious to cleanse all His people from all their sins.

The Levites came from, or the Levitical priests, came from Levi. Levi is a great grandson of Abraham. So in a sense, Abraham is greater than Levi. But Jesus' priesthood did not come from Levi. Jesus' priesthood came from Melchizedek, or after the order of Melchizedek. And as we learn in Genesis 14, Abraham had to give a tribute to Melchizedek, which shows Melchizedek is greater than Abraham. And so if Melchizedek is greater than Abraham, and Abraham is the great grandfather of Levi, we conclude, according to the Hebrew's author, that Melchizedek is more bigshot than Levites.

So Jesus' priesthood is of a higher order and significance. The Levites served in the Old Covenant administration. Jesus' administration is the New Covenant of promise. The Levites performed animal sacrifices. Jesus gave His own body and blood. The Levites can only bring about cleansing of the flesh, outward ceremonial purification. But Jesus brings about the cleansing of the soul, of the conscience, of the heart. The Levites can only grant temporary access to God in the tabernacle, but Jesus brings about an eternal salvation to those who believe.

So today I hope you are not, like, confused with all the ceremonies and so on. I hope you remember that the big picture of Leviticus is about drawing near to God. And in order to draw near to God, you need to learn to say sorry and thank you. And you need to know that you cannot draw near to God in and of yourself. You need a mediator, you need a priest, and the only priest is Jesus Christ. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.

You must have this Agent, you must have this Mediator, you must have this Priest, otherwise you are doomed. You will not draw near to God.

So after the sermon we'll sing a song. It's Before the Throne. And this is a song about the priesthood of Jesus. It goes to say, Before the throne of God above I have a strong and perfect plea. Someone is pleading for me, I'm a sinner, but there is Someone pleading for me, a Great High Priest, Jesus, whose Name is love, who ever lives and pleads for me. My name is graven on His hands, the nails that were driven through evidence His love. My name is written on His heart. I know that while in heaven He stands, no tongue can beat me thence depart.

My time is up, but I still like to remind all of us, I said just now, I'm not 神父 Shen Fu. I said just now, I'm not your priest, because there's only one priest who can lead you to God and that's Jesus Christ. But interestingly, whilst I said what I said, the Bible also says, actually, my friend is not wrong after all, I'm also 神父 Shen Fu. And actually, you are also 神父 Shen Fu. You are also priests. Do you know that? Because Revelation 1 says, to Him who loves us and freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, us, a kingdom, those who believe in Jesus, priests. We are priests.

I don't know what you call 神父 Shen Fu for ladies. Shen Wu. Sounds a bit funny, but you get what I mean. Priests and priestesses. We are. This is also corroborated by Peter, you yourselves, like living stones, are being built up a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood. We are priests because we all are supposed to offer spiritual sacrifices. And we offer ourselves. We are to serve God this way.

And in verse 9, but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him. We are to tell the world about God's goodness. Remember, priests, they are mediators, they bring God's Word to man, and they bring sacrifices and gifts to God. And Peter says, we are priests as well.

So may we today reflect upon our priesthood. You are called. Do you know that? You are called by God through Jesus Christ. You should be clothed with dedication, duty, desire, discernment, diligence and dignity. You should be consecrated, anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and regularly understanding you're atoned by the blood of Jesus Christ. And may we live with caution that we will live our lives not suka-suka any way we want, but in strict adherence to the Word of God. That's what it means to be fit to serve Him.

Many thoughts today? I hope, at the end of the day, we'll draw near to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Let's bow forward of prayer together.

Virtually, most religions, if not all, speak about some kind of mediator, some kind of priest, some kind of go-between. Because we know, as men, that we, by ourselves, are not fit to draw near to a God who is greater than we are. I, I think that instinct is drawn out from the fact that the Bible speaks about a priesthood, a go-between, a mediator.

And when the Bible speaks about the mediator, even in the life of Israel as a nation, it is actually pointing all of us to that Ultimate Mediator and Priest, Jesus Christ. I tell you the Good News today. The Good News of the Bible is that even though you are a sinner, unworthy and unable to come to God, there is a Mediator, a Priest who will act upon your behalf. This Priest was born into this world some 2,000 years ago, lived a perfect life, and He offered His body and His blood as sacrifice to pay for your sins.

This Great High Priest is resurrected, risen today, seated at the right hand of God, pleading for His people. He's pleading for me. He's pleading for those who believe upon Him. And He will be faithful to save us unto the uttermost. So if you are here today and you're wondering, how can I have a relationship with God? I'm saying to you, there is only One who can save you, His Name is Jesus. He is both the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world and the Great High Priest who loves you.

The Bible, God, commands men and people everywhere to repent and to believe in His Son Jesus Christ. Can't you see God has done it all for you? Can't you see that there is a way to God today for you? Will you learn to say sorry? Will you humble yourself? Will you turn to Jesus?

To all my brothers and sisters in Christ, you may feel guilty and ashamed because of the lifestyle you are living today. You have drifted from God, you are disobedient, you are building your own empire. But today God is speaking to you. I say to you, don't beat yourself up too much over your sin and say, I'm filled with despair. Because I tell you, you must remember there's a Great High Priest who is pleading for you. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We have an Advocate, the righteous Jesus Christ. Our Saviour pleads for you today. Come to Him, bare your heart, ask for cleansing and rejoice. My name is graven on His hands and my name is written on His heart. So Father, thank You today for Your Word. We pray that people today will come to Your Son, the Lamb and the Priest, to save us from our sins. Cause Your church, our hearts to melt in the warmth of Your love and draw near to you. Thank You. We pray all this in Jesus' Name, Amen.

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