The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10 ESV

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Sanctity of the Unborn

(This is the updated version of a message given at Restoration Outreach Church & Ministries, Davie Florida, on January 20, 2013. The PowerPoint slides to this message can be viewed at Microsoft PowerPoint Web App. You will want to see the wonderful photos of fetal development. You can download free Microsoft SkyDrive. You can watch this message on video given at First Baptist Church Oakland Park on May 18, 2014 here.)

The Sanctity of the Unborn
Genesis 1:26-28

Before we begin I want to acknowledge that I understand that abortion is a controversial subject, and may be difficult perhaps even painful for some to think about. Statistics would indicate that in most audiences I speak to there will be individuals whose lives have been touched by a abortion. I want you to know that I am aware of that.

Perhaps you have had an abortion, or were in some way were a participant in an abortion. You pressured a girlfriend wife, daughter, granddaughter or niece into having an abortion. Perhaps you paid for an abortion. Or you have lost a child, a brother or sister, grandchild niece or nephew to abortion.

As followers of Jesus Christ we must be willing to address this subject from the authority of Scripture. But, as we take this journey we must do so in the context of two very important Biblical truths.

Let me illustrate it this way. (SLIDE 2) There are two things a train must have to safely reach its destination. Two tracks. Two tracks that run parallel to each other all the way to its destination. A train will go nowhere without riding on both tracks at the same time all the way to the end of the rail line.

In the same way, we must communicate what God says about abortion in the context of God's grace and God's truth. You see, theologically grace and truth always go together. In fact, they are theologically inseparable. They are like the two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. And here's why this is important. Pastor Randy Alcorn has written, (SLIDE 3)

"Grace without truth deceives people, Truth without grace, crushes people."

We will never understand God's grace (SLIDE 4) part from God's truth. BUT God's truth will always lead us to God's grace.

And as we begin this morning let me impress this upon you. If your life has been touched by an abortion, while  you cannot escape the truth about abortion nor some of the consequences of your abortion, please know that there is forgiveness, there is healing and restoration in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is a way to resolve the guilt, shame and hurt that abortion will bring to the human experience. And I want you to know that you are in the right place to hear that Good News. If your life has been touched by an abortion in any way, you are in a safe place in this church.

No one is here to condemn or judge you. On the contrary, we are here to extend love and compassion and a message of forgiveness, healing restoration and hope available to you by faith in Jesus Christ.

This Tuesday, January 22, 2013, we will remember the 40th anniversary of two U. S. Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. These two rulings of the court legalized the deliberate, premeditated killing of unborn children at anytime during all nine months of pregnancy right up to the very moment of natural child- birth. The Court ruled that an unborn child is not a person and therefore lies outside the protection of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, (SLIDE 5) the words of the Declaration of Independence, “...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” These words do not apply to unborn human beings. Therefore the unborn are the property of the mother, who has been given by the Court the “right” to keep or kill her unborn child.

This ruling parallels the 1857 (SLIDE 6) Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court that declared an African American freed slave, named Dred Scott was not a person for one reason, his skin color was black. This gave the slave owner the right to keep, sell or in some instances kill the slave. The slave was the property of his owner without the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”                                                                             
It is estimated that between (SLIDE 7) 50 to 60 million pre-born children have lost their lives to abortion in the United States in the last 40 years. 1.21 million unborn babies were aborted in the U.S. in 2011. That is over 3,200 babies a day.                                                      
In Broward County, (SLIDE 8) just over 12,000 unborn babies were killed in 2012. Statewide Florida lost over 76,000 (SLIDE 9) that same year. 
Abortion is clearly THE moral issue of our day.  No other social evil or pathology threatening our society can begin to compare or rival this injustice. Someone put it into perspective  (SLIDE 10) when they wrote: 

"Abortion-on-demand laws give to one person (the mother) the legal right to kill another (the baby) in order to solve the first person’s social problem.”

Abortion is a controversial and divisive issue. The debate continues over the water cooler around the supper table, in educational institutions, legislatures, courtrooms, and the church. The abortion industry, abortion rights advocates, pro-abortion politicians, judges, educators and the mains stream media have been very successful in taking the spotlight off the fact that every abortion takes the life of an unborn child and focus the debate on a woman’s “reproductive rights” or the “right to choose” granted to her by the court. That is why they refer to themselves as “pro-choice” while labeling those who oppose abortion as “anti-choice.”   

The proponents of a woman’s right to take the life of her unborn child rarely use the term "pro-life" to describe those who oppose abortion. To do so would lend credibility to the inescapable fact that every abortion takes the life of an unborn child. Dr. Maurice Irvin has written, 

“‘Pro-choice’ is an entirely inappropriate term. That expression suggests that sometime  after a baby has been conceived and growing within her a woman can decide then whether or not she wants to be a mother. But a woman who has become pregnant  as already made that choice...This so called pro-choice position,  does not uphold a woman’s right to choose but rather her right to avoid  the consequences of choices she makes.”

As Randy Alcorn has said, (SLIDE 11)
"The prochoice position always overlooks the victim’s right to choose...The blacks didn’t choose slavery. The Jews didn’t the  choose the ovens. And the babies don’t choose abortion.”
From both a legal (SLIDE 12) and moral perspective, the central issue in the abortion debate is not "women’s rights” but the “human rights, the “civil rights" of the unborn.
You cannot extend to a woman (SLIDE 13) the right to kill her unborn child, as the Court has done, without, at the same time, denying her child the right to live.
This is the inevitable question (SLIDE 14) that must be asked and answered, in the abortion debate. "Is the unborn a human being?” That is the pivotal question hat the 1973 Supreme Court failed to answer in their Roe v. Wade decision. Even Justice Harry Blackmun  (SLIDE 15) understood this. In his prevailing opinion he wrote,                                                                                 
"If the suggestion of personhood is established, the [abortion rights] case of course, collapses..."
You see, If tomorrow, the Court were to acknowledge the personhood of the unborn they would have no choice but to overturn Roe v. Wade. Again Randy Alcorn, (SLIDE 16),

“Even prochoicers must acknowledge that the ‘right to control one’s body’ argument has no validity if the unborn is a human being.”

Both Scripture and science have conclusively answered the question I am posing, in the affirmative. We begin at the beginning. (SLIDE 17) Genesis 1:26 (ESV)
"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'"
I hope you will see the astonishing truth of this text as it relates to the question before us regarding the life of the unborn. Notice first of all (SLICE 18) man was created By God. Genesis 1:27 (ESV) "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them….then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."(Genesis 2:7 ESV)

Contrary to modern evolutionary theory, (SLIDE 19) man was not the product of a meaningless, random evolutionary process over billions of years. Man was not the result of a cosmic accident. On the contrary this passage speaks to us of a Creator who intentionally created man in His image and likeness with capacities reflective of God.

We see in this creative act meaning that transcends the notion that man is but a creature who over millions of years has risen from the primordial chaos to the top of the evolutionary chain having succeeded in the survival of the fittest. No, God designed a man with capacities reflective of God Himself for a purpose determined by God Himself. Why in the abortion debate is it important to note that man was created by God, not the product of chance? 

As already noted, the Founding Fathers recognized that man was endowed with certain unalienable rights, including the right to life. Endowed by their Creator. Not the Federal Government, not the Supreme Court not the state of Florida but their Crestor! The Founding Fathers understood Genesis one. So we should insist on preserving the right to life of the unborn for the same reason.

Secondly notice that, (SLIDE 20) Man was created in God’s image and likeness. Let me be more specific in describing what this means. Pediatrician, Dr. John Rendle-Short, identifies some of the Godlike qualities man shares with God. (SLIDE 21) Language, humans can communicate. My dog Maggie can bark, whine, growl, but I have yet to hear her utter a single word, no less speak a sentence. Intelligence, man can think. Not only can he think as a rational being, he can think in the abstract. He can compute complex mathematical, chemical and engineering problems. Creativity, he can create sophisticated products. Think of the technology of modern scientific, medical, engineering and construction industries, just to name a few. He can send a man to the moon and communicate instantly around the world from iphones and the internet. love, relationships, fellowship, community. Man is a social creature with the ability to love and be loved to care for and nurture his young, live in enduring committed relationships like marriage and family. Holiness, man has a moral  conscience, the ability to tell right from wrong. Immortality, he is eternal. Unlike the rest of the animal world, he will live for ever. Freedom, he can make choices. This is “because he is human, made in the image of God.” (John Rendle-)Short, M.D, Man: The image of God)
What a huge statement this makes about man’s capacity to relate to God. You see, the fact that God created man in his image and likeness speaks of God’s intention and purpose in creating a unique creature having the capacity to live in relationship with His creator.

As Marcus Dods wrote years ago, (SLIDE 22)
"Man is dear to God because he is like Him... Man, alone among God’s works, can enter into and approve of God’s purpose in the world and can intelligently  fulfill it....Man is incommensurable with the rest of the universe. He is of a different kind and by his moral nature is more akin to God than to his works.” (pg. 12-13) (SLIDE 23)

Thirdly, man was given a mandate to multiply and have dominion over the earth. Note Genesis 1:28,
"Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.  (ESV)

Oswald T. Allis has said, (SLICE 24) "Man is made in the image and likeness of God. This sets him apart from all the other creatures and entitles him to have dominion over them. He is the climax of the creation...” 

Note that God links creation with procreation. Please do not over look in the significance of this in the abortion debate. Thomas Paine, (SLIDE 25) one of the author of the Constitution wrote,

“...All men are born equal and with equal natural rights, in the same manner as if posterity had been continued by creation instead of generation... the latter being only the by which the former s carried forward; and consequently every child (SLIDE 26) born into the world must be considered as deriving its existence from God. The world is as new to him as it was to the first man that existed and his natural right in it is of the same kind.” (The Rights of Man)

This speaks directly to the culture of death that has shaped the thinking of millions of men and women who abort their posterity when faced with an unplanned and often unwanted pregnancy. In every conception we must see the creative work of God in fashioning another human being created in his image.

Fourthly, we see personhood (SLIDE 27) in God’s relationship to the unborn. Of John the Baptist: “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”  Luke 1:15 (ESV)

The prophet Isaiah’s testimony (SLIDE 28) “Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.”  Isaiah 49:1b

The Apostle Paul (SLIDE 29) "But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace.”  Gal. 1:15  (ESV)

The prophet Jeremiah (SLIDE 30) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5  (ESV)

What is God’s View of Man’s Life? (SLIDE 31) Douglas Erlandson has written,

“God deals with the lives [of man] from conception to adulthood. The Bible does not appear to recognize a special change in God’s dealings with man at birth. God values each of the above men while he is still in the womb – knows him, chooses him, shapes him.”  (Abortion: Answering the Arguments)

Friends, the biblical evidence (SLIDE 32) is very clear. The unborn are created by God and for God. They were created in His image and they are recognized by God as distinct and unique persons from the moment of  conception. Life begins at conception.

Let’s look at the scientific evidence. Scientific evidence indicates that human life begins at conception. Listen to a description I have compiled, of the development of the unborn in the womb. (SLIDE 33)

Douglas Erlandson has written, “When the fertilized egg (or zygote) is first formed, it already possesses its full complement of DNA or genetic information." DNA proves that life begins at conception. (SLIDE 34) Erlandson continues, "That information never changes. A person’s sex, blood type, hair and skin color, and future height are all determined in that first cell. From that moment on, unless its life is terminated, it will develop until it becomes adult human being.”

He adds, “It will never become a cat, dog, gorilla, or anything other than a member of the species homo sapiens. From the moment of conception, it is every bit as much a human being as you or I. Nothing radically changes at birth. Birth is simply a change of address one stage on a continuum of life stages.”

At 17 days, the new life has developed its own blood cells; the placenta is a part of the new life and not of the mother. At 18 days, there is the occasional pulsations of a muscle this will be he heart.

At 19 days, the eyes start to develop (SLIDE 35) At 20 days, or almost 3weeks the foundation of the entire nervous system  has been laid down.

Twenty five days after conception the heart beats. In Lennart Nilsson’s famous photo essay he writes of the unborn at three and a half weeks,  

“This embryo is so tiny - about a tenth of an inch long that the mother may not even know she is pregnant. Yet there is already impressive internal development, though not visible here. This embryo has the beginnings of eyes, spinal cord, nervous system, thyroid gland, lungs, stomach kidney and intestines. Its primitive heart, which began beating haltingly on the 18th day, is now pumping more confidently. On the bulge of the chest, the tiny buds of arms-not yet visible are forming.” (3 1/2 weeks) (Drama of Life Before Birth” (Life, April 30, 1965)

At twenty-eight days, (SLIDE 36) forty pairs of muscles are developing along the trunk of the new life; arms and legs forming.

At thirty days, regular blood flows within the vascular system; the ears and nasal development have begun.

By the forty to forty third day, (SLIDE 37) the brain registers waves on an electro encephalo gram and the heart energy output is reported to be almost 20% of an adult.

By the forty-second day the skeleton is complete and reflexes are present and movement of the baby in the womb may begin.

Psalm 139:13 (NIV) (SLIDE 38) “For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

By the eighth week or fifty-sixth day (SLIDE 39) you have a perfetly formed baby with hands, fingers, including distinctive fingerprints feet and toes. All vital organs are present and functioning.  The baby responds to touch

Psalm 139:14 (SLIDE 40) “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works.”

By the 9th week the baby is the size of your thumb and will respond to pain, can grasp an object and make a fist..

(SLIDE 41) In the eleventh week (about three and a half months) all bodily systems work. The baby swallows, tastes, sleeps, wakes, responds to light and darkness, warmth and cold.

Psalm 139: 15 (SLIDE 42) “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in the secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”

(SLIDE 43) In the eleventh and  twelfth week, the arms and legs move, the baby sucks its thumb inhales and exhales amniotic fluid, and nails begin to appear.

(SLIDE 44) By four months - or sixteen weeks, the fetus is five and a half inches long. The genital organs are clearly differentiated. The baby swims, kicks and turns somersaults. The baby cries, hears voices, has rapid eye movement,  eyebrows and eyelashes.

(SLIDE 45) At five months survival is possible if born. The baby can learn and remember, is well coordinated and kicks are being felt by the mother.

Psalm 139:16 (NIV) (SLIDE 46) “ Your eyes say my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

This is an unborn child at six months (SLIDE 47) In Luke 1:44, these words were spoken by Elizabeth  the mother of John the Baptist, when Mary the mother of Jesus visited her.

“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

John the Baptist, about six months old in the womb worshiped Jesus, the Messiah, God in the flesh, who was but days old in the womb of his mother Mary. The first recorded worship of the Messiah, took place in the womb. I call it intra-uterine worship.

F. LaGard Smith, (When Choice Becomes God, pg. 127,131)

“I’m convinced that if wombs had windows, the abortion debate would be over, once and for all. If wombs had windows, we could no longer refuse to acknowledge the existence of this little person. Nor could we continue to rationalize the right to kill. If wombs had windows, the charlatan charade of whether there is ‘personhood’ would come to a screeching halt. Pro-choice is nothing less than blind choice that slams the windows shut.”

John Piper writes,
“Psalm 139 emphasize(s) God as the primary workman nurturer, fashioner, knitter, Creator --in this time of gestation. Why is this important? It’s important becuase God is the only One who can create personhood. Mothers and fathers can contribute some impersonal egg and some impersonal sperm, but only God creates independent personhood.”  (Brothers We Are Not Professionals, p. 219-220)

Conclusion: whether you approach the issue of the personhood of the unborn from a biblical point of view and we must, or from a purely scientific or biological perspective, the inescapable conclusion is that life within the womb is human life, a distinct person, worthy of protection. The vast majority of women and men considering an abortion, have never had the opportunity to hear what you have just heard. The billions dollar abortion industry is not giving them the truth about life in the womb or the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder after having an abortion. The four words that I hear - over and over again from post-abortive women is, "THEY LIED TO ME."

Therefore the Church cannot afford to remain silent! Nor can the Church be satisfied by say abortion is wrong and leave it at that! It must reach out to those at risk for an abortion, giving them the truth where they are.

That is why Hope Women's Centers' operates pregnancy resource clinics on the street, one just north of here on University Drive.

I am involved in serving the church, through The Church for Life, (SLIDE 48) as it responds to America's abortion crisis. I believe there are at least four ways the church can be involved. The church can lead the nation in prayer to end abortion; communicate the message of the sanctity of human life; minister healing and restoration to the post-abortive and provide compassionate and practical help to those at risk for abortion. 

Let me remind you that abortion does hurt women and men, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Dr. Julius Fogel, (SLIDE 49) an obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) who performed over 20,000 abortions, says,

“There is no question about the emotional grief and mourning following an abortion. There is no question in my mind that we are disturbing a life process.”

In Chattanooga Tennessee (SLIDE 50) there is The National Memorial For the Unborn. It is built over the site where 35,000 babies were killed in Chattanooga's only abortion clinic from 1975-1993. Here the memories  of unborn children are honored. It is a place dedicated to healing generations of pain  associated with the loss of aborted children. The centerpiece of the memorial (SLIDE 51) is a 50 ft. granite “Wall of Names.” Brass plates have been attached to the wall with words of remembrance from mothers and fathers and other family members from all over the country.

Reading some of those messages helped me to understand the many victims of abortion. The loss of the unborn child, and the emotional, spiritual, and psychological suffering, the hurt, sorrow and heartache of the parents and families of those who have lost children to abortion. Listen to some of those messages:

“Baby Baker Feb. 11, 1990 - A Part of Me Died Too”

“Christine May 15, 1982 - Wish I'd Known - Your Sister”

“Jesse Banks 1975 - Someday...Love, Grandma”

“Baby Jones Spring 1978 - We Loved You Too Late”

That’s why Hope Women's Centers has an abortion recovery ministry!

Let’s not over simply the issue of abortion. The vast majority of women considering an abortion have not heard what you have just heard and are not told of the alternatives to abortion. More than half of the women who have an abortion, feel that they have no choice. Over 50% of women who have an abortion, do so to please a man in their life. A true story from Broward County.

She was pregnant for the third time. She was excited but her husband threatened to leave her if she had the children. He arranged for her to have a “safe” abortion at a local hospital. The night after the abortion  and every night for months, she cried herself to sleep. The abortion took a toll on her marriage and two years later they were divorced.

“How ironic,” she said, “that the marriage I had sacrificed my - baby for was doomed to fail anyway.” The downward spiral after the abortion included "…a lifestyle of immorality to drown my sense of worthlessness and depression.”

Through counseling she was encouraged to attend the Bible study “Forgiven and Set Free" offered by Hope Women’s Centers. There she found “tremendous peace and understanding”  in each of  the 12 session that gave her “comfort and assurance.” In her words,

“I began to really believe that God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy were gifts that He meant for me to experience! A new hope was born in my heart as I came week after week.”

You see, the ministry of the others in the group helped her.  She said, “Their prayers and God’s intervention allowed me to experience true restoration.”

Listen to these words by F. LaGard Smith. You will hear the Biblical truth we have already noted reflected in his explanation of post-abortion trauma. He writes,

“...newly created life is so much a part of who the mother is as a giver of life, that aborting the fetus is tantamount to ripping out a part of her own self. What after all, is reproduction all about? It’s about duplication and continuity. Just as a humankind is made in the image of the Creator, the fetus is made in the image of the procreators. The mother has a part of herself invested in the life form conceived within her. The fetus is not a generic human life but a special human life. It is special to the father and special to the mother. It is unique to them. If, therefore, abortion is morally wrong, it is one of the most personal wrongs one can ever do. For if abortion is the wrongful killing of another, there is also a sense in which it is moral suicide. It is killing a part of one’s own self. It is self-denial, self-abasement. Abortion carves a hole in the human soul. That’s why there is guilt.
That’s why there is post-abortion trauma... Removing a baby from the womb is the easy part; removing the aborted baby from the mind is next to impossible.”

In closing, let’s talk about forgiving abortion. (SLIDE 52) The Bible says, 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

That is the message those involved in abotion need to hear. God’s promise is definitive. Upon confession of our sin, any sin, the sin of abortion, the sin of pushing a girlfriend, wife or daughter or granddaughter into an abortion, the sin of paying for an abortion, the sin of performing an abortion, the sin of doing nothing about abortion, It matters not what sin it is God is faithful and just. He will keep His word. And in extending to us forgiveness He will remain just.

A few verses later, 1 John 2:1-2, John gives the reason why he will be faithful and just to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness because “...we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense.” Jesus is the public defender, our defense attorney, our advocate pleading our case before the Holy Judge.

Why can he plead our case? Because according to chapter 2 verse 2, "He is the atoning sacrifice (propitiation) for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” A propitiation is a blood sacrifice that covers sin, so that God’s wrath and judgment will be averted! You see, Jesus died in our place. He paid the penalty for our sins so  we can be forgiven and be justified, declared righteous in God's sight, our sin no longer being no held against us.

This is the invitation of Jesus, (SLIDE 53) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Pastor Flip Benham, Director of Operation Save America has said,

“Abortion will come to an end, when the Church of Jesus Christ makes up her mind it will come to an end not a second sooner. The responsibility for ending abortion in America rests squarely upon the shoulders of the Church of Jesus Christ.”

He is so right. Two years ago, on January 21 of 2011 I had the privilege to stand in front of the U.S. Federal Court building in  downtown Fort Lauderdale and delivery the message at the Rallly for Life. These words were part of my conclusion.

"Ultimately, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the solution to America’s abortion crisis. Innocent blood has polluted the land and profaned the name of the Lord. But there is a greater blood shed at Mount Calvary, that can transform the heart of a mother so she will choose life for her child, that can cleanse the guilty, forgive, heal and restore those involved in abortion. What America needs to hear is God’s truth about abortion wrapped in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Church we can win this battle! Christ has won the victory! (SLIDE 54)

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:9-10)

Jesus described Satan's Agenda in (SLIDE  55) John 10:10 , "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,"but the Apostle John wrote in 1 John 3:8, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work."

Paul wrote, (SLIDE 56),...having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." (Colossians 2:15)

Dr. Herb Lusk II, is the pastor (SLIDE 57) of an African American church in an abortion clinic infested neighborhood in the inner city of Philadelphia. His church opened a pregnancy resource center shortly before he spoke at CareNet’s annual conference in October 2008. He said,

“If you don’t do anything about the horrors of abortion you’re not part of the solution, which means that you’re part of the problem.…as long as a baby is in danger we’re in war.  As long as the life of one infant is threatened, the war rages on.”       

May God help us.     

© James P McGarvey All Rights Reserved





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