Update 215


Friend or Foe

On October 15, 2005, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Friend or Foe?”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

The Feast of Tabernacles begins next Monday, at sunset. The services of the opening night and during the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day can be heard at www.cognetservices.org. A schedule of all services has been posted. Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Show Yourself Friendly!

by Edwin Pope

How many true friends do you have today? What does it take to establish a friendship, to be a special friend to another human being, and how does one ensure a lasting friendship? There are some basic principles we should consider if we are to have true, lasting friendships!

To begin with, we are told by Solomon, the son of David, King of Israel, in Proverbs 22:24, to “Make no friendship with an angry man…” When we do make such friendships, we put ourselves in jeopardy of picking up the bad habits of such a person, which could affect our spiritual lives (verse 25).

James 4:4 tells us “…that friendship with the world is enmity with God…” Additionally, we are told in that verse that “Whoever … wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Strong words, these! Certainly, we don’t want to begin friendships at odds with God! Of course, we all have friends in the world, but we must not do, as many in the world do, in order to maintain these friendships. If we properly apply the right principles in all our friendships, we have a good start in establishing the right type or kind of relationships which should last eternally!

We are told in Proverbs 18:24 that “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” In Proverbs 17:17 we read that “A friend loves at all times…” To want to have good friends is a right and proper desire, and we should seek to establish friendships that will be lasting, never forgetting our admonition that we should, ourselves, be friendly.

In James 2:23, James quotes the Scripture, Genesis 15:6, which says, that Abraham believed God, “…and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” James adds: “And he was called the friend of God.”

We see in these Scriptures where true friendships should begin. Jesus said to His disciples, “…I have called you friends…” (John 15:15). That relationship extends down to His faithful disciples today!

Our friendships must be based upon the principles of God, and we should make ourselves friendly, especially with all who desire to live their lives based upon the principles God lays out in His Word! Of course, as we have noted, we have friends in all walks of life, and as long as those friendships do not hinder our relationship with Christ, we should continue in them, as we continue to exemplify Christ in our lives. In setting a right, Christian example in our lives, we should be applying the Christian principles we have learned in this Way in all our dealings with others; thus, we should never be without an abundance of true friends in this life!

And now, with the Feast of Tabernacles fast approaching, we are going to have a wonderful opportunity to renew friendships with brethren we have not seen for a number of months, and at the same time we have the opportunity to meet and cultivate many new friendships. We must not let this opportunity pass without taking full advantage of it. Let us all apply the Godly principle of showing ourselves friendly, and let’s all come away from this feast having developed many new friendships with brethren of like minds! Keep in mind the Scripture in Galatians 6:10, wherein we are told: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

At the feast this year, take every opportunity presented to you to show yourself friendly!

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2005–The Year With the Worst Natural Catastrophes!!!

Bild Online published several articles on October 10, 2005, discussing the most recent natural catastrophes. In one of the articles, it was stated:

“It is scary. Again another terrible killer quake, this time in Pakistan. Again more than 30,000 people died [recent preliminary estimates say that about 40,000 died]. And a mudslide in Guatemala killed 1,400. Does it ever stop? 2005–one catastrophe after the other. Never before did so many people die through natural catastrophes. Never before did our earth see so much suffering all at once. Earthquakes, killer waves, volcanic eruptions, horror storms, and floods. Does nature revenge itself? The earthquake in the region of Kashmir (India, Pakistan)… is the worst in South Asia over the past 100 years…

“2005–the year of catastrophes. At the end of last year and the beginning of the new year, a tsunami in Southeast Asia kills about 300,000 people. New panic about two months later. A severe earthquake hits the East of Indonesia… On March 13, a middle-size earthquake (5.7) in south-eastern Turkey. Four months later: Earthquake alarm in Tokyo…

“May 2005: Fear and trembling in the Saar Territory [in Germany]. A strong temblor (3.4) hits the region. The sky ignites in Germany at the end of July: 104,000 lightning strikes in six hours. A tornado damages houses. At the end of August another ‘one-hundred-year-flood’: Heavy rain, mudslides and floods: Many people die in several European countries (Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, Rumania). Then the horror storms: Hurricane ‘Katrina’ devastates… Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Almost 1,000 people die. Three weeks later: The levies in New Orleans break again. Hurricane ‘Rita’ strikes. Over two million people evacuate Houston and surrounding areas. Then Hurricane Stan strikes Middle America. Several families die, villages are buried by mud… 2005 is going to be the record year of hurricanes. This year has seen already 18–normally, there are only 10 within a year. And then, there are 16 potential killer volcanoes on earth. Four of them are in Europe.”

In addition, another article stated: “And Now– Will Millions Die Through The Bird Flu?” The article continued: “The bird flu has reached Europe. It is only 1,000 kilometers away from us. In Romania and Turkey, there are already thousands of dead birds… We [in Germany] are sitting on a time bomb… During the last great epidemic in 1918 (the Spanish flu), over 50 million people died. The cause was a bird flu virus, similar to the current one… Early symptoms are fever, coughing, and serious pneumonia.”

Disastrous Earthquake in South Asia

AFP reported on October 8, 2005, that “An earthquake measuring at least 7.6 on the Richter Scale caused massive devastation across a swathe of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, leaving thousands of people feared dead. [Subsequent reports estimated the death toll in Pakistan alone as exceeding 40,000]. ‘This is the strongest quake in the last 100 years in this region,’ the chief of Pakistan’s meteorological department, Qamar Uzzman, told AFP… At least 14 aftershocks [most recent news reports mentioned more than 140 aftershocks], including one measuring more than 6.0 on the Richter scale, rattled Islamabad in the hours after the quake… Many mosques started reciting special prayers… Men spontaneously started reading aloud verses from the Muslim holy book, the Koran, and women beat their chests in a display of bereavement.” Bild Online reported on October 11, 2005, that the first cases of Malaria surfaced in Kashmir.

Der Spiegel Online added that a similar earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter Scale occurred in the region on May 31, 1935, killing 60,000 people.

Tropical Storm “Stan” Devastates Central America

AFP reported on October 8, 2005, that “Devastating Tropical Storm Stan has killed at least 278 people in Central America and Mexico after lashing the region for days with relentless rain, authorities said. Officials feared the toll could rise as emergency workers tried to reach communities cut off by flooded rivers or swept away by massive mudslides. The death toll in hardest-hit Guatemala surged to 176 Friday… The storm has also killed 67 in El Salvador, 11 in Nicaragua and 24 in Mexico… Tens of thousands were left homeless across the region… “

The article continued:

“In El Salvador… the trauma of the storm was magnified by an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the open-ended Richter scale that hit Friday at 1743 GMT. The quake’s epicenter was 55 kilometers (35 miles) south of El Salvador’s coast in the Pacific Ocean… On October 1, El Salvador’s largest volcano erupted for the first time in a century, killing at least two and forcing more than 2,000 to flee. The Panamerican Highway leading to the capital of San Salvador was cut off by mudslides, as were several other roads.”

AFP summarized the most recent devastations through hurricanes, as follows:

“The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, has been one of the deadliest and most active on record. Stan was the 10th Atlantic hurricane this year. Hurricane Katrina, which slammed the US Gulf of Mexico coast August 29, ravaged New Orleans and coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, killing more than 1,200 people and becoming the deadliest storm to hit the United States since 1928.”

Floods in Eastern U.S.

The Associated Press reported on October 10, 2005, that “Prolonged, heavy rain caused flooding from North Carolina to New Hampshire over the weekend, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate, knocking out electricity, weakening dams and making roads impassable… Gov. John Lynch [of New Hampshire]… declared a state of emergency and called in 500 National Guard members for assistance. ‘This is the worst damage they’ve seen from flooding in 25 years in New Hampshire,’ the governor said Sunday night.”

America Ill Prepared for Bird Flu

AFP reported on October 8, 2005, that “A draft of the Bush administration’s final plan for dealing with a likely Pandemic flu outbreak shows the United States is woefully unprepared for the potential disaster, The New York Times reported on Saturday. The document says a large outbreak that began in Asia would be likely to reach the United States within ‘a few months or even weeks,’ and that more than 1.9 million people could die in the worst case scenario, the Times said. If that occurred, according to the draft, hospitals would be overwhelmed, riots would engulf vaccination clinics and power and food would be in short supply, it said… The H5N1 avian influenza virus has killed millions of birds across Asia and infected 116 people, killing 60 of them. If it acquires the ability to pass easily from person to person, it could kill millions in the space of a few months, experts say.”

According to press releases by Der Spiegel and Bild Online, Rumania and Turkey quarantined large areas where hundreds of birds died, apparently because of the bird flu, including chicken, swans, ducks, geese and turkeys.

Earthquakes in Central California

The Associated Press reported on October 8, 2005, that “An earthquake shook central California early Saturday about five miles northeast of San Simeon, home to Hearst Castle. The magnitude-4.2 temblor hit at 5:17 a.m., according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Geological Survey… The temblor came after a magnitude-4.4 quake hit the area Oct. 2. San Simeon is located about 200 miles northwest of Los Angeles.”

Living In the End Times

WorldNetDaily reported on October 9, 2005, that “this weekend’s catastrophic earthquake in South Asia in the wake of recent U.S. hurricanes and December’s tsunami is catching the eye of televangelist Pat Robertson, who says we ‘might be’ in the End Times described in the Bible. ‘These things are starting to hit with amazing regularity,’ Robertson said on CNN’s ‘Late Edition.’ Robertson, a former GOP presidential candidate and host of the ‘700 Club’ daily Christian TV show noted, ‘If you read back in the Bible, the letter of the apostle Paul to the church of [Thessalonica], he said that in the latter days before the end of the age that the Earth would be caught up in what he called the birth pangs of a new order… What was called the blessed hope of the Bible is that one day Jesus Christ would come back again, start a whole new era, that this world order that we know would change into something that would be wonderful that we’d call the millennium… And before that good time comes there will be some difficult days and [these] will be likened to what a woman goes through in labor just before she brings forth a child.'”

The article continued: “Robertson isn’t the only one raising the End Times issue, as author and WorldNetDaily columnist Hal Lindsey has weighed in on the issue. ‘It seems clear that the prophetic times I have been expecting for decades have finally arrived. And even worse, it appears that the judgment of America has begun,’ Lindsey said on the Sept. 9 broadcast of the ‘International Intelligence Briefing’ on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. ‘I warn continually that the last days lineup of world powers does not include anything resembling the United States of America. Instead, a REVIVED ROMAN EMPIRE IN EUROPE is to rule the West, and then the world. ‘”

Starve Or Freeze?

The Associated Press reported on October 12, 2005, that “Winter heating bills will be a third to a half higher for most families across the country, with the sharpest increases expected for those who heat with natural gas, the Energy Department forecast Wednesday. The department said natural gas users can expect to pay an average of $350 more during the upcoming winter compared to last year, an increase of 48 percent. Those who heat their homes with fuel oil will pay $378 more, or 32 percent higher than last winter… ‘Should colder weather prevail, expenditures will be significantly higher,’ the EIA [Energy Information Administration] said… For some low-income families the sharp jumps could mean choosing whether TO EAT OR KEEP WARM, energy experts and advocacy groups fear.

“The natural gas utilities warned Tuesday that despite their attempts to contain retail fuel costs, heating bills for gas users this winter will jump 50 percent over last season nationwide. In parts of the Midwest bills could be much higher. More than half of all U.S. households heat with natural gas. But many of those who rely on electric heat, nearly a third of the country, may also see bills go up because many power plants run on natural gas. And users of fuel oil, more than half the households in New England, are expected to see their costs jump by a third or more over last winter, according to industry and government estimates… [The] National Energy Assistance Directors Association, which represents the state agencies that distribute money to help low-income families pay their fuel bills [commented that this] winter… [there will be more] than a million additional applicants for the government program, a 20 percent increase over last year, with NOT ENOUGH MONEY TO GO AROUND.”

The fact that poor citizens of the most prosperous country in the world may either have to go without food or heat this winter is a crying shame and a terrible testimony of the state of affairs of the United States of America.

Did God Order President Bush to Invade Iraq?

AFP reported on October 8, 2005, that “The White House has denied that US President George W. Bush said God told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, as a new BBC documentary is expected to reveal. ‘That’s absurd. He’s never made such comments,’ White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday. The documentary series set to be broadcast later this month in Britain claims Bush made the claim when he met Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and then-foreign minister Nabil Shaath in June 2003. He also told them he had been ordered by God to create a Palestinian state, the ministers said. Shaath, now the Palestinian information minister, said: ‘President Bush said to all of us: “I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.’ And I did. And then God would tell me, ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq… ‘ And I did. And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, ‘Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East’. And… I’m gonna do it.”‘

“Abbas, who was also at the meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, recalled how the president told him: ‘I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state.'”

President Bush Under Attack

Der Spiegel Online reported on October 8, 2005, that “The US Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to outlaw the abuse of military prisoners in American custody. The move is being seen as a slap in the face to a President Bush who is retreating on all fronts. It’s the ‘biggest defensive battle’ of his career…

“Although the Bush Administration opposed the motion, arguing that it was unnecessary and would interfere with interrogation procedures, the Republican-dominated US Senate backed the bill by a vote of 90-9. This astonishing move, effectively a revolt against Bush by his own party, is being seen by many in Europe as just comeuppance for a president who the old continent feels has been guilty of astounding hubris [excessive pride, arrogance or self-confidence]. Bush’s leadership qualities, once his strongest suit, have been called into question by the disorganized relief effort following Katrina. And with every casualty in Iraq, the president’s popularity drops further still. Even the right-wing of the party — some of his most vociferous supporters during his first term — are disappointed with him, with Bush this week nominating dark horse, and possibly even moderate, Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Are German commentators worried for Bush? Hardly. They couldn’t be happier.”

Merkel Germany’s New Chancellor?

AFP reported on October 10, 2005, that “German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has relinquished his seven-year grip on power to open the way for his conservative arch-rival Angela Merkel to become the first female leader of Europe’s biggest economy. Merkel will lead a coalition government of her Christian Democrats and his Social Democrats, an alliance last seen in the 1960s, tasked with reviving the country’s battered economy. In separate meetings Monday, the SPD and CDU leaderships approved the deal for a left-right administration.”

The Associated Press added: “Parliament must convene by Oct. 18 but is not obliged to vote immediately on a new chancellor if coalition talks are still ongoing.” According to Bild Online, dated October 11, 2005, the earliest date for a parliamentary vote on a new chancellor is November 17, if both parties (SPD and CDU) adopt the coalition contract on November 14. If Angela Merkel receives the absolute majority (i.e., 308 votes–CDU and SPD have 448 votes), she will be chancellor. Failing this, the parliamentary election process will have to be repeated once or twice, until a simple majority has been reached.

The German press reported that Merkel’s CDU (in coalition with Stoiber’s CSU) would occupy six ministerial posts, while the SPD, in exchange for their approval of Merkel as chancellor, would receive eight ministerial posts. German TV reported that Schroeder declined a ministerial post in the new government, reiterating his position that it would be impossible for him to serve under Merkel–following a step taken by Germany’s Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, a few days ago.

Some officials within the SPD, as well as the FDP, have stated their disagreement with the decision and announced that they will not vote for or support Angela Merkel as chancellor. And nobody expects that the remaining two parties represented in the German Parliament, the left-winged PDS and the Greens, will support or vote for Angela Merkel.

Guido Westerwelle, leader of the FDP–the strongest opposition party–commented that “nothing good will come out of the grand coalition” (Bild Online, October 11, 2005).

Former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (FDP), who was highly instrumental in bringing about Germany’s re-unification, had warned against a grand coalition between SPD and CDU. He had stated in an interview, according to an article by Deutsche Welle of October 5, that “A grand coalition always means a two-way blockade culminating in wrong decisions. Today when people talk about how federalism reform is necessary, it’s actually the call to finally undo what the grand coalition of 1966-1969 did wrong. That does not inspire confidence.”

Some observers agree with Mr. Genscher’s assessment of the grand coalition of 1966-1969, but hope that we will see better results this time. However, they might be disappointed. The grand coalition of 1966-1969 was responsible for many unpopular decisions, including adopting the controversial “Notstandsgesetze” (“emergency laws”), the military draft, and laws restricting personal liberties and freedoms. Because of little opposition within the German Parliament, an extra-parliamentary opposition (“APO”) came into being, mainly carried by students, leading to civil unrest in the country. If something like this happens again, we might witness a loud outcry from the German people and their demand for a stable and effective leadership (“der starke MANN muss her” –“the strong MAN must come”).

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Are we forbidden to eat the meat of "unclean" animals?

The Bible is very clear that humans are not to eat the flesh of animals which God designates as “unclean.” Comprehensive lists of clean and unclean animals can be found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. When studying those lists, it is obvious that the following animals are “unclean” and that its flesh is inappropriate for human consumption (even though they might be frequently eaten in certain parts of the world, and even considered as “delicacies”): Pigs or swine; hares or rabbits; camels; horses; donkeys; lamas; civet cats; monkeys and apes; cats; dogs; ostriches (including their eggs); seagulls; swallows; whales; dolphins; sharks; catfish; eel; lobsters; crabs; clams; oysters; shrimp; shellfish; octopus; squid; frogs; snakes; lizards; turtles; mice and ants. This list is not exhaustive, of course, but it highlights certain “popular” unclean animals.

Some claim that the distinction between clean and unclean animals only came into existence at the time of Moses, and that it was strictly a temporary ritual law. However, the Bible is clear that the prohibition of the consumption of unclean animals is a health law, which was in force and effect long before Moses, and which is still in effect today.

There are many reasons, grounded in biological facts, that show why unclean food should not be eaten. But a true Christian should only need one reason why unclean food should not be eaten, and that is because God prohibits it. Those who say that Christ abolished the law condemning unclean food are not motivated by Scripture.

We read in Genesis 7:2, 8-9, that God differentiated between clean and unclean animals at the time of Noah, and Noah knew exactly which animals fell into what category. God told Noah to take into the ark seven males and females of every clean animal, but only two males and females of every unclean animal. And Noah knew which animals were clean and unclean.

Christ did not abolish the distinction between clean and unclean animals, or the prohibition for man to eat unclean animals. Some refer to Mark 7:18-19, stating that Christ made all animals clean and proper for consumption. However, the context of this passage is that the Pharisees criticized Christ’s disciples for eating food with “unwashed hands” (verse 2); that is, without washing their hands first “in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders” (verse 3). Christ said in verses 18-19: “… Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”

This passage does not teach, as some erroneously claim, that Christ made all foods clean. Rather, the word for “purifying” is “katharizo,” meaning “cleansing.” It is used in James 4:8, where sinners are told to cleanse their hands. The Authorized Version translates Mark 7:19 as, “… and goes out into the draught, PURGING all meats.”

Christ was addressing a situation where a little bit of dirt might have been attached to our hands or the CLEAN food. When we eat this, it does not defile us inwardly, as it is eliminated out of the body into the draught. The clean food will be “cleansed,” in that little particles of dirt will be eliminated out of the body. To use the passage in Mark 7 and say that Christ made all unclean animals clean is a willful and deliberate distortion of Scripture.

Others claim that Acts 10 teaches that God made all food clean. In that passage, Peter had a vision, seeing a great sheet of clean and unclean animals, and a voice asked him to eat. Peter refused and did not eat, although the voice told him that he should not call common what God had cleansed (verse 15). Subsequently, Peter went to the Gentiles, which were treated as common or unclean by the Jews, and baptized them. When confronted by the disciples, who were, at that time, exclusively of Jewish background and descent, Peter explained the meaning of the vision. It had nothing to do with declaring unclean animals as appropriate for human consumption. Rather, Peter said, in verse 28: “… God has shown me that I should not call any MAN common or unclean.” And so, the disciples recognized the purpose of the vision–it was to show the New Testament Church that God had “granted to the GENTILES repentance to life” (Acts 11:18).

Some, who refuse to obey God in all things, use additional passages to “prove” that we can eat today whatever dirty and rotten and slimy animals we want to devour. But Scripture does not support such teachings. In fact, the Bible is very clear that the returning Jesus Christ will PUNISH those who eat abominable unclean animals. We read God’s words in Isaiah 65:2-5:

“I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts; A people who provoke Me to anger continually to my face; Who sacrifice in gardens, And burn incense on altars of brick; Who sit among the graves, And spend the night in the tombs; WHO EAT SWINE’S FLESH, AND THE BROTH OF ABOMINABLE THINGS [margin: UNCLEAN MEATS] is in their vessels… these are smoke in My nostrils, A fire that burns all the day.”

Scripture continues to describe Christ’s return, and His judgment on those who refuse to obey Him, in Isaiah 66:15-17:

“For behold, the LORD will come with fire And with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword The LORD will judge all flesh; and the slain of the LORD shall be many [compare 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10]. Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves, To go to the gardens After an idol in the midst, EATING SWINE’S FLESH AND THE ABOMINATION AND THE MOUSE, Shall be CONSUMED TOGETHER,’ says the LORD.”

These passages would make no sense, if it would be perfectly acceptable in God’s eyes for man to consume unclean meat. But to assume this, is a tragic error. GOD COMMANDS MAN NOT to eat unclean meat. This prohibition was not just a temporary ritual law, but it is, and has always been, a health law, which must be obeyed today. God did NOT do away with this prohibition, and He does not take it lightly when people flagrantly disobey Him.

For additional information, please read pages 24-25 and 53 of our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…”

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled, “How Convicted Are You?”

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

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