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The Aftermath Of The Fall

Category Articles
Date September 8, 2006

Genesis 3:8-19 “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’ And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ So the LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’ To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’ To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat of it,” Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return’

Satan is a cunning deceiver while men and women are always pretenders. As every preacher looks at every congregation he is aware that everyone sitting before him is a pretender – just like himself. Bonnie Prince Charlie, grandson of James II, was called the ‘Young Pretender’ claiming in 1745 the British throne. King David’s son Absalom was also a pretender to his father’s throne. Satan, the great deceiver, seduced our first parents and made Adam and Eve pretenders, offering them a seat on God’s throne, promising that they would be as powerful and as wise as Jehovah himself. What vanity! They were beguiled by what the serpent said and the result of their foolishness is known around the world. They couldn’t handle the consequences; men are never up to being God. Adam and Eve were mere people like you and me, with a human brain and human resources, but after listening to the serpent they made a pretense of being Someone Else – whom they could never be – a God who infinite, eternal and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. How pathetic to think they could become like the Ancient of Days – by eating a piece of fruit! They’d become believers in magic. It was all a pretense and they were deluding no one but themselves.

They’d become like that teenager who tells his friends in school that his father knows Wayne Rooney’s father and he can get that famous soccer player to visit their school. It’s all a pretense and finally he has to admit it. How painful! How embarrassing! The boy’s been dreaming. He can’t dive off the high board no matter his fine words; the best he can achieve is a belly flop. What were Adam and Eve thinking in dreaming of becoming the sovereigns of the universe? It was their pride that deluded them. They had believed a lie and overextended their reach, far beyond their capabilities as creatures made in the image of God. They were attempting to be what they could never be – God himself. It was, we would say, an ontological impossibility! Down they fell! “Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall” (Provs 18:18).

What falls are created by men’s pretense. Men pretend that their marriages are happy, that they are model husbands and fathers; they pretend that their businesses are a runaway success story, that their CVs are accurate, that the qualifications they’ve printed out – the schools and universities they’ve attended and the exams they’ve passed – are all accurate, while we know that a quarter of all CVs are false. A girl suggests that top model agencies are fighting over her contract; a boy pretends that famous football clubs are outbidding one another to get his name on their books; the government pretends that things are good in Iraq, in the National Health Service, in education, in the Home Office; older women pretend they are ten years younger than they really are; an alcoholic pretends he is now completely dry and a drug addict that he has kicked the habit. It is a civilization dominated by pretense.

Christians too can pretend; Abraham told his wife to pretend she was his sister; Jacob pretended he was his older brother Esau; Joseph’s brothers pretended that a wild animal had killed him; Pharaoh pretended to let God’s people go; Delilah pretended she was heartbroken because Samson wouldn’t tell her the secret of his strength; Judas pretended he loved Jesus by kissing him; Pilate pretended he wasn’t responsible for the death sentence on Christ. Adam and Eve pretended to one another that they could be up there on the sofa with God, ruling the universe. Men and women are great pretenders, living Walter Mitty lives instead of facing up to themselves and coming to God exactly as they are;

“Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come.”

Kill your pride! End the pretense! It is a wall stopping your coming to God. The key mistake Adam and Eve made is the same one made by many today, to think that they have a natural ability to decide what is true and right, but ultimately they know they don’t. In the Times yesterday was a long interview with a thoughtful middle-aged actor. At one point the reporter said to him, “Ever seen a shrink?” He replied, “No, but I’d like to. I wish someone was there just to tell me; ‘You were a complete fool for doing that.’ Maybe I’d just like someone to talk to – a confessor.” How sad! The search for infallible moral judgment, and looking to a shrink for that – of all professions the shrink is the one most steeped in the non-directional school of moral thinking. I am saying that we don’t need a fellow sinner to explain what is right and wrong. What we have to do is listen to the Creator God speaking in the Bible. Without the Word of God we are in moral darkness. There is no other ethical way. Jehovah has given his judgment.

Let me illustrate that; you don’t feel well and so what are you going to do? It’s possible to take some pain killers and sleeping tablets and so you feel better. The pain has gone. In other words, you can diagnose yourself and treat yourself. Many do just that. Or there’s the alternative, you can go to a registered doctor and put yourself in his hands. What do you hope from him? Well, three things really: (1) an accurate diagnosis. You expect the doctor to tell you just what is wrong. Then, you hope for (2) an authoritative prognosis. You want to know the possible implications of what’s wrong. What might be the outcome if you leave things unchecked? Then, anything more? One thing, you expect the doctor to give you (3) an effective prescription. You want treatment that will work.

Let us go back to Genesis two and three: the Lord, the great Physician, told Adam and Eve what would be the inevitable road to death – defying him and taking the forbidden fruit. You can know that prognosis because God has told us. He has declared to all that the wages of sin is death. The soul that sins shall surely die, but there are plenty of quacks around just like this serpent. They oppose God. “He’s told you wrong,” they say. “Take the forbidden fruit and life begins! You’ll become like God,” the serpent said to Adam and Eve. “You don’t need some God over you spelling out what is right and wrong. You become God!” I am reminded of how Harold Macmillan described the benefits of an Oxford education; “All Oxford need teach you is to know that someone is talking rot.” What happens when you listen to serpents?


This is what we read, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’” (vv.7-10). When the Lord visited the Garden, Adam and Eve did something they had never done before, they hid from him among the trees. They weren’t comfortable in his presence. Their guilt made them afraid of God and ashamed. It had never happened before; there had once been pleasure in meeting this glorious Lord. He had made Eve for Adam. He had visited, counselled and advised them. There had been unity and harmony all their days, but now there had been a divorce – not between Adam and Eve but between man and God. When the Lord arrived then the pair of them went into hiding, holding their breath, careful not to tread on a stick, crouching behind trees, not wanting God to see them.

Man has been doing that ever since. Why don’t people crowd this church on Sundays? They don’t want to meet with God. They have built a screen around their lives; they have declared them to be God-free zones; the Lord has no admission; their lives are off-limits for God; there the Bible is unread, one day a week is unobserved; they are strangers to prayer. They’ve pushed God out of their minds, and yet very often he knocks, disturbing them and he summons them to give an account to him. They don’t like it, because they don’t like him.

The prophet Jonah went on the run from the Lord getting on a boat in Joppa and heading for Tarshish, but on that boat in the Mediterranean God met Jonah in a storm, and even in the belly of a great fish he couldn’t hide from God. The psalmist says that if he took the wings of the morning and flew to the uttermost part of the earth the moment he arrived he’d find God waiting for him there. “I fill the heavens and the earth,” says the Lord. “There is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). Think of the hidden cameras that dot the banks, building societies, shops, hospitals, streets and motorways. Our movements are recorded by a hundred cameras on a simple journey around the shops. There is no need of a private detective to dog our trail. Our daily walks are being captured on video tape, but God knows exactly where we are and what we are doing when there are no cameras around. He knows our thoughts, and God can see that your relationship with him is broken. What is the second consequence of the fall?


You see how God interrogates Adam, “‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.‘” (vv.11&12). Adam and Eve had had the only perfect marriage this world has ever seen. They could sing together in perfect harmony as they worked and rested. “Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” Adam had said of her; “We couldn’t be closer.” But now that they’ve listened to the words of the serpent their eyes have been opened and they are looking at one another as one sinner looks at another with guilt and judgment and shame.

When God asked Adam had he really eaten from the tree Adam replied by blaming God and blaming Eve – “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree.” Adam and Eve had been companions; they had clung together but after the fall they began to blame one another and Adam began the long wretched history of men abusing women. God said to Eve, “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you” (v.16). What a mess we’ve made of our lives; we ourselves have done it, but we’ll never admit it. Confessing our sins is utterly alien to us. It’s always someone else’s fault, and if there’s no man or woman we can find to blame then we can always blame God. So Adam says, “It was your idea to make a woman; you put her here with me. Don’t blame me, Lord! What else did you expect from me as a dutiful and loving husband? I had to go along with my wife didn’t I? It’s her fault! I’m telling you, ‘Her fault!’ If she hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t have done it. She was the one who took the first bite of the fruit and then she came to me and offered it to me. What would you expect me to do but take it from her? It’s another fine mess you’ve got me into.” The wine of Adam’s love had turned to vinegar. The woman then speaks and she blames the serpent, “He deceived me and I ate.” Didn’t she freely go along with the serpent? We accuse one another in order to excuse ourselves. We justify ourselves by pouring out our grievances against other people, and so on we go, limping on and on to judgment day. It’s always somebody else’s fault.

“There, in the most intimate relationship of all – the husband-wife relationship – strife and discord have entered. Here was Adam trying to pass the buck, putting the blame, the responsibility, onto his wife Eve. It still happens, doesn’t it? How many torn and broken marriages are there in our own community? I was looking at some of the statistics for the nation not so very long ago and it is running something like this: for every three marriages there are two divorces, and the ratio is increasing. No wonder there’s a housing shortage with all these divorced people. You can trace marital discord right back to the Garden of Eden – strife, animosity, hatred between those who should be loving towards one another” (cp. Graham Harrison, Beginning at the Beginning, Bryntirion Press, 1999, p.21). I was reading a life of Thomas Hardy the novelist this week. He was no friend of supernatural Christianity. He was married to Emma Gifford; they developed a long and troubled marriage which eventually fossilized into ‘pointless hatreds’ which neither of them bothered to hide. When Prime Minister Asquith offered him a knighthood Hardy refused simply because the honour would have raised Emma to the style of ‘Lady Hardy.’ Instead he accepted the OM, a gong that shone on his breast alone. There was no healing of their troubled marriage.

Until you take responsibility for your own life, and confess your own sin there can be no healing. You remember how chapter five of the prophecy of Isaiah contains five ‘Woes’ on the nation for its drunkenness and violence and greed. Woe, woe, woe to them all! Then in chapter six Isaiah himself sees God high and holy and lifted up, and Isaiah stops pointing the finger at other people; “Woe is me! I am ruined. I am a man of unclean lips” (Is. 6:5). The prophet has seen what he’s really like. Has God brought you there yet, or are you still blaming your family or finding some serpent to blame? Take responsibility for your own life, and take your sins to God the great Forgiver and plead the name of his Son. He will give you rest, but not without you confessing your sin. What is God saying to you? “Where are you?” Does he know? Of course God knows; it is a rhetorical question. God is asking it to get from you a confession of your sin. “Here I am Lord – the sinner.”


A report was released this week claiming that 51 per cent of British men feel down, stressed, depressed or anxious at least once a month. One in five had such feelings every day. Two-thirds of the 1,212 men questioned had experienced depression or anxiety. Think of the millions of prescriptions for tranquilizers and antidepressants that doctors write each year. The figure is enormous. We are a restless unhappy nation in which many get by through drugs. Look at Genesis three and the revolution that had taken place in the Garden of Eden. Here are two people burdened with a sense of shame – something they’d never felt before. They’re embarrassed by their nakedness. They’re guilty before God at what they’d done, and they’re hiding from him. They know they have done something horrendous; they have defied the mighty loving Creator and they deserve to be punished. In place of inward harmony there is disorder caused by sin. The man and the woman began to realize the terrible difference between what they should have done and what they’d actually done. Evil was right there with them. Instead of saying No to sin they had embraced it. They had done this absolutely freely. Paul talks about this very thing. It’s something we have all felt; “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin” (Romans. 7:21-25). We know what is right, Paul says; we’ve got a conscience; we even want what is right, yet how weak we are; somehow we still end up doing what’s wrong. It is as if there are two persons inside us, each fighting the other for control and the evil one wins again and again. Paul is finally so frustrated with being a battleground that he roars out his misery: “What a wretched man I am!” The misery of disorder. Christ is the one who gives us peace.

What God ordered in creation men and women have disordered by sin. Why, even this very week, there will be a Speaker needed in the House of Commons calling out to over 600 intelligent men and women – the nation’s leaders – “Order! Order! Come to order!” Why? Because our natural inclination, after the fall, is toward unruliness. Why do police and military commanders have to give orders? Because if each one did what seemed right in his own eyes there would be chaos – a lot of little people would be trampled on. Why do soccer referees have to keep control of every single game in the World Cup? Because we can’t even play a game unless rules are applied. Why do citizens sometimes demand a return to “law and order”? Because in their eyes an ordered society is turning into a riot.

God likes things done decently and in good order, as the Bible says, and we are made in his image. God’s law is a way of restoring order to a fallen creation. When God says “Love me above all else, and fully and always, and love your neighbour as yourself.” God is calling us to order. He is calling us to trust and obey. For there’s no other way to be happy than with God’s law and order, trusting him and obeying it. Since the fall of man there is inward disorder.


God speaks to Adam; “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field” (vv.17&18). There is some kind of cosmic dimension to sin and its consequences. In other words, the very natural order in which we live, the ecological climate of this planet, is also disordered and put out of joint, because of man’s sin. Working the soil is less cooperative, and persistent weeds are producing new virulent strains that had to be dealt with. There is the pollution of land and river and lake not just in capitalist countries – maybe less in democratic nations – but very much so in eastern Europe, Russia and particularly China, the mighty socialist nations. Air, soil, sea and even space have all become the dumping ground for man’s noxious filth. Man abuses the creation of God. There is a passage in Romans 8 where the apostle Paul is looking forward to that great time when the Lord Jesus Christ is going to return and everything is going to be put right. He speaks of the present sufferings of the animate and inanimate creation: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:19-22).

The world of nature round about us has a groaning ugliness about it, for all its beauty. Nature is ‘raw in tooth and claw’, as Tennyson put it. Natural disasters, flooding, tsunamis, hurricanes, famines – even when they aren’t caused by human sin – have come because of this initial act of man rebelling against God. That is why this is such an important chapter in the unfolding story of God’s revelation to us in the Bible. Man has rebelled against God, and man is living with the consequences. God made Adam the head of humanity, so when the head of humanity declared war on God we all got involved. God created man to rule creation, so when the human king of creation fell, his entire realm was affected, the fields, the plants, the weather, the insects, and the various processes of nature. The soil became less productive, plants became less nourishing, and some animals that had once lived on vegetation and fruit began to get nutrition by eating other animals. Weather became harsher. Some bacteria, viruses and parasites which once had been entirely harmless and even helpful, became harmful, even fatal. Cells and organs which once operated perfectly could become cancerous. Hospitals are keeping one or two steps behind the super-bugs because the antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, MRSA, has spread to every ward. What were the headlines in the Times this week? “Headlice Defeat the Lotions and the Potions. How Lice are Becoming invincible.” (June 14, 2006). 80 per cent of the headlice infecting the scalps of Welsh schoolchildren have developed a resistance to the various over-the-counter treatments that are commonly used to eradicate them. There are their photographs, grossly enlarged, headlice looking like fearsome dinosaurs, and they are inhabiting the heads of the children sitting next to your children in school tomorrow. It all goes back to the fall of man. There is this “bondage to decay” all around us in our groaning creation.

And that is not the whole story. Man is dying with the consequences. I did not quite complete what it was that God said to Adam: “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19). Death was unknown till man sinned. You and I one day, unless the Lord Jesus should return before, will die. My very body will perish and be lowered into the ground – the very ground across which I have walked as God’s vicegerent, as one made a little lower than the angels. This body of mine will be buried six feet under the earth’s surface. We die because we are sinners, and sin entered the world here, in the Garden of Eden, in the way described in this third chapter of Genesis. God had warned Adam, “when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). I know that it was to be many years after this that Adam’s spirit and body were torn apart and he breathed his last, but long before that he was dead spiritually, dead while he lived. The union between him and God was sundered. One day, unless the grace of God intervenes, not only will you be dead physically, but you will linger in spiritual death throughout eternity (cp. Graham Harrison, op cit, pp. 23&24).


The third chapter of Genesis works up to its climax in some sober words which were addressed by God to his implacable enemy the serpent. Let the devil never forget what judgment lay before him. Whatever wanton damage he may do his doom is secure; God has pronounced it. That sin of Adam and Eve had divine and cosmic repercussions; a wedge was driven between themselves and God, their own harmony as husband and wife has been wrecked, their own state of heart and mind become disordered, and their relationship with the rest of creation was disrupted. That became the plight of man, and thus it has been ever since . . . but that is not the end of the story. There is more than a divine diagnosis and prognosis in Genesis 3, there is also a divine prescription for restoration. There is one more reality in this chapter and that is the power of God. This chapter really climaxes in verse fifteen. Hear the great words of God; “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15).

i] Notice there is first of all a divine initiative: God says that he is going to do something about this mess; “I will put enmity” (v.15). Eve had been gushingly sweet and helpful to the serpent; she’d listened sincerely to what he’d said and acted upon his words. There’d been no enmity there. Now God speaks and his words are not directed to the man or the woman cajoling them to start hating the serpent from now on. No. It is not an exhortation to man to do anything at all, “Be at enmity with the serpent!” No. Rather here is the promise of a divine initiative. God himself is the one who will establish a new enmity against the serpent. Salvation is always of grace, which means simply that it is of God, and had not God taken the initiative here and intervened with lost and ruined man, there would have been no salvation.

ii] Secondly, we notice that the deliverance entails the reversing of the disastrous attitude of the woman: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;” (v.15). This means that the woman had to learn who was her enemy and who was her true friend, that the serpent despised her while God loved her. There was no change of heart in the serpent; he ever hated God, even when he was in heaven, and he hates all the offspring of God. Know this! The devil is not like that cute figurine with a forked tail and a tripod in his hand which some hang from their rear view window. There are principalities and powers; there are rulers of the darkness of this world. They are intensely active never taking a day off. Beelzebub and his hosts live! Your own life has been affected by the devil. This serpent has blinded the eyes of the men and women of our community so that they can’t see God’s glory in Christ. “You’d better take him seriously!” God says. “Learn from Eve’s truce with the devil,” God warns. Such a new attitude of determined enmity to the devil comes about by God himself. It’s a work of God; here is a foretaste of the New Testament doctrine of the new birth, deliverance from the serpent’s kingdom caused by a more powerful King. “I will establish this enmity,” says the Lord.

iii] In the third place, we notice that this enmity extends to both the respective seeds. Enmity will I place between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers“, that is, between the descendants of Satan on the one hand and the descendants of Eve on the other. God announces a never ending jihad that will last to the end of history. What is meant by the ‘offspring of Satan’? I am inclined to think that it refers to evil men, men who throughout the course of history have placed themselves on the serpent’s side as over against God. In this world, God announces, there will be two kinds of people, those who are pro-God and those who are anti-God. This enmity extends generation after generation between their respective offspring. There will be two kingdoms at war, a kingdom of darkness over which the serpent rules where you find demons, fallen angels, and all who would do the will of Satan in opposition to God, and then there is the kingdom of heaven over which the Lord of love reigns. Entry into this kingdom is by the new birth. Our weapons are now guns and bombs but the power of truth and the sword of the Spirit.

iv] In the next place, we notice that the enmity will culminate in a decisive blow being struck which destroys the serpent. Let me quote the verse literally: “He shall bruise thee as to the head, and thou shalt bruise him as to the heel.” Thus the promise is given that from the human race One will arise who will deliver a blow that will crush the serpent. God does not say that he will bruise the seed of the serpent, but that he will bruise the serpent itself. This is the first Messianic promise in the Old Testament. This is the Mother Promise, the initial gospel news in Scripture. It is the fountain head which gathers volume and momentum as the pages of the Bible are turned. Here it is enigmatic and rudimentary, as becomes its place in redemptive history, but it promises some great victory over Satan which will come, and from this promise onwards, as time progresses, the Lord will reveal more and more details concerning the Messiah who is to come. This is a true Messianic prophecy. It points forward to one who shall come, the Son of Man – for these words are ultimately where this title of Jesus comes from. It says that the seed of the woman, a human being, will give that fatal blow which will destroy the serpent and set man free from his power.

v] Fifthly, notice that the serpent is cursed. You understand? This serpent, not all literal snakes. We are not told that the woman was cursed or that the man was cursed, but we are told that the ground too was cursed. However, as a mother woman will know increased pain. There will be complications at birth, miscarriages, babies stillborn, genetic diseases passed on, births that threaten the very life of the mother. Here is a hint of all the sorrows a mother knows because of her children, a burden she bears throughout her life, pain rendered more difficult by the lack of perfect harmony with her husband. “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (v.16); in other words, the woman will have an excessive desire and determination to dominate her husband. The man, however, will dominate her. There are particularly female miseries in this life as well as the pains men have. Be she the richest of women, like the mother of the American Kennedy family or if she is a peasant working a rice field in China, her family life won’t be without pain. So much Eve had lost by listening to the devil. What might have been hers? She could have enjoyed intercourse and pregnancy without pain when her babies were born. She could have enjoyed good children without the agony of destructive kids, but Eve had to experience the agony of one of her sons murdering another; “A foolish son brings grief to his mother” (Proverbs 10:1). In her marriage she could have delighted in submitting to the considerate leadership of her husband instead of the battle of the sexes and the blame he would have hurled at her. The Bible says that the earth trembles for “an unloved woman who is married” (Proverbs 30:23).

There is a growing fascination with the twelve thousand million people who live in China as that world becomes increasingly open to examination. It has the highest suicide rates for women, running at 150,000 a year. It is the only country in the world where more woman

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