Revelation 12 War in Heaven & the coming Holocaust

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Bible Study Series: Revealing Jesus in Revelation

Revelation Chapter 12:7-17 War in Heaven & the coming Holocaust 

by I Gordon

Revelation 12 Bible Study War in heaven and coming holocaustWelcome! Last time we looked at the first six verses in Revelation 12 and saw that it had some interesting characters. We've got the pregnant woman, crowned with 12 stars. We've got the wrathful dragon, out to devour. And then there is the promised child who is born and caught up into heaven, escaping the dragon. There is enough right there for the bones of a great book. Well, it's the theme of the greatest book - the Bible! As we saw, this vision in Revelation 12 opens up a panoramic view of scripture extending from the garden of Eden to the 2nd coming of Jesus. In this ancient conflict, playing out in both heaven and earth, we noted that the dragon failed to prevent the coming of the promised child despite numerous attempts at destroying both the promised line of the woman and the child himself.

And in fulfillment of the first prophecy given at the fall of mankind, the serpent struck at the heel of this child, the Messiah Jesus, at the cross. But in doing so Jesus struck the fatal blow to the serpent's head. So the serpent-dragon's time is truly limited. But he doesn't seem to have got the memo just yet! Having failed in preventing the coming of the child and having been totally outwitted at the cross, he has few cards left to play... but he does have one left. His last play is to come after the woman that brought forth the Messiah the first time and whose repentance and belief in the Messiah will bring Him forth to earth the second time! How that plays out is what we will concentrate on today looking at:

  • How this ancient conflict moves to Heaven - who fights this battle and when is it?
  • The outcome of this war - why is it rejoicing for heaven but woe for the earth?
  • The persecution of the woman - why does this wrathful dragon try to destroy the woman, Israel, once again : (
  • And along the way we'll draw some applications for our own lives today

War... In Heaven!

Rev 12:7-9 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. (8) But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. (9) The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

When you think about heaven what comes to mind? Maybe you think about God's throne and presence. Maybe you think about the total peace, holiness and fullness of joy. Maybe you consider the praise and worship surrounding the glory and majesty of God. Maybe you think about war... Ok probably not war. But a war in heaven is coming. Currently, as we see in the book of Job, Satan is allowed to come before God and does so to live up to his name as 'the accuser of the brethren'. A day is coming however when this will occur no more. So the key questions are when does this war occur, who fights in this battle and what is the outcome? 

When does the war occur?

Revelation 12:7 introduces this new topic of a heavenly war but doesn't specifically say when it occurs. Many Bible prophecy teachers place it in the mid-point of the Tribulation because of its context in this chapter and by linking it with Dan 12:1 which states that Michael will take his stand to protect the people of Israel at this point. That could well be the end point for this war but we don't know for sure. It is possible that this war begins at the rapture of the church. John MacArthur writes:

The tumultuous events on earth during the Tribulation find their counterpart in heaven. A state of war has existed since the fall of Satan (cf. Rev_12:4; cf. Dan_10:13; Jud_1:9). Something will intensify that warfare—possibly the raptured saints passing through the realm of the prince of the power of the air (cf. Eph_2:2).   

H.A Ironside writes in the same vein saying: 

When our Lord Jesus Christ returns for His church, we are told that the voice of the archangel will be heard from Heaven, together with the shout of the Lord and the trump of God... Their (believers) passage through the air and enthronement in glory would seem to be the signal for the driving out of Satan and his hosts from the upper air, where they have been permitted to maintain their hold during the past five thousand years. Satan is called the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Believers are told that their conflict is with wicked spirits in heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). These evil hosts are continually endeavoring, by deception, to keep Christians from enjoying their present portion in Christ, but when the church is caught up, the evil forces will be ignominiously driven from what we might call the “outer court of Heaven” and cast down on the earth.
H.A Ironside

Knowing that the rapture of the church is a fulfillment of the Jewish wedding model, I can't personally see Satan having access to heaven when the bride is taken back to her heavenly home to be with her bridegroom. I can't and won't be dogmatic as the text doesn't say exactly when this war begins, but it makes sense to me that Satan will be filled with rage at the rapture of the body of Christ as this fulfillment of 'the child' is again caught up to heaven and escapes his grasp. He will then realize that the Church age believers have truly overcome him and will never come under his influence ever again. Remember that believer! Once we are in our heavenly home we won't have to see him, hear him or come under his influence or accusations ever again. That's something to look forward to! 

Who fights this war?

The second question is who fights this war? Let's be clear that this is not God vs Satan! This is not Jesus vs Satan. That would be like George Foreman in his prime versus a high school featherweight. This is an angelic war with Michael and his angels in one corner, and Satan and his fallen angels in the other. So let's explore what we can learn about these two from our text in Revelation 12:7-9.  

'...Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back... The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan...

What we learn about Satan

Called the Dragon

The imagery of a dragon speaks of a fierce and powerful being, known for its ability to attack, harm and destroy. This represents the form of physical attack Satan can use. We see an example of this in the book of Job in the many ways that he was assaulted. And obviously we see that again here in Revelation 12, this ancient conflict that we talked about last time, between the dragon, the woman and her child. 

Called the ancient Serpent

This links the dragon of Revelation with the serpent all the way back in the garden of Eden where Satan came in the form of a serpent. The serpent was sly, cunning, and deceptive. The serpent put deceptive questions into the minds of Adam and Eve saying 'Did God really say...' Satan, in the form of the serpent, loves to mix truth and error in a poisonous cocktail. The last days before the return of Jesus Christ will see Satan's attack in both the form of the dragon and the serpent. But it predominantly starts with the serpent. It starts with deception. And then comes the full on attacks of the dragon.

Called the Devil

The word devil means 'accuser'. Noted Bible teacher John Walvoord writes: "The title 'Devil' is from the Greek diabolos, from the verb diaballo, which has the meaning of 'defaming' or 'slandering.'  He is the master accuser of the brethren."

Called Satan

The word Satan means 'adversary' and reminds us that whatever form Satan takes, whether it is as a dragon or an angel of light, he is still and will always be, the adversary. He has different tactics and forms but his goal remains the same.

What we learn about Michael 
On the opposite, and good side, we have the angel Michael who is mentioned in 5 different verses in the Bible. Let's examine each verse.

1. Michael is 'one' of the chief princes in the angelic realm

Dan 10:13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.

The first mention of Michael is to do with warfare. And what we will find is that every mention of Michael in the Bible is in relation to conflict and warfare! Quite possibly he is looking forward to Satan being eventually locked up as well! In a fascinating passage, Michael was required to come to help the angel Gabriel bring his message to Daniel because Gabriel had been opposed by other powerful fallen angels. Michael is said to be 'one of the chief princes' in the angelic realm. This shows that there are other chief angelic princes but they are not named in the Bible. 

2. Michael is specifically Israel's protector

Dan 10:21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.)

Speaking to the Jewish prophet Daniel, Michael is called 'your prince'. From this we learn that he is specifically the prince over the nation of Israel. Just as there are fallen angelic beings over regions such as the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece (Dan 10:20) so Michael is the angelic 'prince of Israel'.  

3. Michael will take his stand against the enemy in the tribulation period

Dan 12:1 At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people--everyone whose name is found written in the book--will be delivered.

Michael is here said to be the protector of Israel. And a time of great distress in the tribulation will make Michael 'stand' - that is he will rise up and take his stand against the enemy in protection of Israel.

4. Michael is an archangel and has disputed with Satan before!

Jud 1:9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

Here we see Michael is an archangel. This means that he is the 'chief, highest leader of the angels'. He is the only angel with this title in scripture. We also see that Michael and the Devil have history! It goes back a long long time and they are not friends! While Michael won't overstep his bounds and responsibility according to God's command, you can imagine that he is waiting for the time when God gives him permission to deal with Satan! 

5. Michael will get his fight with Satan at the right time

Rev 12:7-8 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.

And here Michael gets his opportunity! With God's permission and timing, he is allowed to fight Satan and drive him, and his minions, out of heaven once and for all. And Michael doesn't disappoint! : )

What is the outcome of this war?

'...and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.'

Satan, this vile creature, is cast out permanently from having any access to heaven and is hurled to the earth1. That is very good news for heaven... but very bad news for earth. It is always interesting to see the little glimpses into the spiritual realm that scripture gives us. I mentioned earlier that one book that clearly presents this is the book of Job. There we read:

Job 1:6-12 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. (7) The LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it." (8) The LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." (9) Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nothing? (10) "Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. (11) "But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face." (12) Then the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him." So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.

In this amazing scene, the sons of God, angelic beings, present themselves before God to give an account of their activity.2 Making it spicier still, among the seemingly unfallen angels, is one called Satan! He has been watching one on earth called Job and when God raises the integrity of Job, His servant, Satan is quick to accuse him and pronounce that he is only faithful to God because of God's blessing and protection. And so God allows Satan to test Job, but with clear boundaries on what Satan can and cannot do. It is a truly remarkable scene! Now Revelation 12:10, as we shall see, takes it up a notch revealing that Satan accuses the brethren before God day and night! We need to acknowledge that we see and understand these things dimly! But what is clear is that with this coming war, this all changes! Never again will Satan have access to the heavenly courts of God's presence. And never again will he be able to accuse one of God's children before the Lord. 

Contrasting fortunes - Rejoice oh Heaven but woe to the Earth! 

Rev 12:10-12 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. (11) They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (12) Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."

As I mentioned, this fantastic news for heaven is offset by the news for the earth. Those that dwell in Heaven are to rejoice. That will include believers, like you and me I trust, as well as angelic beings. It seems that heaven is getting excited because a loud voice is yelling 'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.'

  • Heaven speaks of salvation - For believers will have been brought safely into their heavenly home! And no one will be saying 'Well look at me, I am the very most Reverend of wherever...' No, we will all be saying 'Praise you God. Thank you Lord! Thank you for your incredible grace and faithfulness! He who began the good work in me has carried it on to the day of salvation!'
  • Heaven speaks of power - For the power of the Father and the Son will be seen with not one born again believer being lost! All will be kept and brought safely into their heavenly home. And the Lord's power is also seen in casting Satan out and hurling him to the earth.
  • Heaven speaks of the kingdom and authority of Christ - For the Kingdom of heaven is once again at hand and nothing will stop it from coming to this earth! Jesus, the current King in exile, will take up His position of supreme authority of all the kingdoms of earth!
  • Heaven speak of the blood of the lamb - Heaven tells us that believers have overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and their confession and testimony of Christ. It is all about Jesus and nothing is more important to a true believer than Jesus! His victory is our victory and if you are coming under the condemnation and accusations of the enemy, remember and acknowledge the blood of the Lamb that was poured out for you to give you a perfect standing before the Father. Let me give you an example of this as an application.  
Oh go tell my Father!

I have mentioned this experience my mother had before but it is worth repeating. Many years ago the business where my Dad worked at the time was getting rid of some small cheap display tables so Mum and Dad bought a few. Now Mum had a friend who wanted some of them so Mum sold some to her for only a few dollars more and made a very small profit. It wasn't long however before the accusations began... 'How could you sell them at a higher rate and try to make a profit off your friend? What kind of friend are you? How could you do such a thing?' Try as she might Mum couldn't get away from the accusations going on within her. She prayed, repented and asked for forgiveness yet nothing stopped the accusations - The voice in her thoughts continued... 'You aren't a friend. What a horrible thing to do! And you call yourself a Christian!' On and on it went. 

At last a revelation came to Mum. She saw what the source of these accusations was. Or more accurately 'who' the source of these accusations was. She saw that it was not coming from God but from the enemy and upon seeing that she said five words that stopped the accusations immediately - She simply said 'Oh go tell my Father!' And that was it. The accusations were gone. We need to learn that we are in a battle and we need to see that part of the enemy's arsenal comes through guilt, fear, accusations and condemnation. But as we stand in the finished work of Christ, knowing that the blood of Christ has removed our sin, we can take our stand in the sure position that He has given us. We can resist the enemy, even as my Mum did in this example, knowing that Satan has no grounds of accusation against those that God has declared not guilty and righteous in His sight! Truly we overcome by the blood of the Lamb!

Now, as believers, we will rejoice greatly on that day when we are home! As I mentioned earlier we will be free from the accusations and influence of the enemy forever! But the scripture also says 'but woe to the earth'. If you think it is bad now you haven't seen anything yet. A churchless earth will leave a vacuum that evil will fill. And having been cast out of heaven, Satan will know that his time is very short and will ramp up his activity. Now we can already see him doing that in our day can we not? I believe he knows that there is already very little time left. But Satan, and the changes on this planet, will go into overdrive when he is finally and forever kicked out of heaven. So what will happen then?

Beware the wounded wrathful dragon

Rev 12:13-14 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. (14) The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. 

Having been cast out of heaven, the last card to play for Satan will be to pursue and persecute the woman, Israel. Unfortunately, it will be the Holocaust 2.0. Scripture tells us that 2/3 of those in the land of Israel will be killed. But for the remnant of Israel who obey God's command to flee at this time, a place of protection has been prepared. Jesus said that those in Judea at the time have to flee straight away to the mountains when they see the Abomination of Desolation (Matt 24:15). But where do they go? Scripture gives several clues as to where this will be. It will be a place called Bozrah in Edom which most believe is todays ancient city of Petra in southwest Jordan3. Some quick points to note:

The hiding place prepared in Bozrah (Petra)
  • Bozrah Petra Edom Where Israel flees toEdom is specifically said to be a place that will be kept from the hand of the Antichrist - Dan 11:41 'He (the Antichrist) will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand.'
  • Micah 2:12 tells us that God will assemble the remnant of Israel to Bozrah: 'I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.' (KJV)
  • The judgement upon the nations specifically speaks of vengeance in Edom, in Bozrah: Isa 34:6 The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, It is sated with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, With the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah And a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
  • When Jesus returns He will come and fight the armies that are intent on destroying the nation of Israel. And where does He go? That's right - Bozrah! It seems that He begins in Bozrah and from there moves back to Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. Isa 63:1-3 Who is this who comes from Edom, With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel, Marching in the greatness of His strength? "It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save." (2) Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? (3) "I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment.

There, Israel is protected for a time, times and half a time. That is, the 3 1/2 years in the 2nd half of the tribulation. Revelation 12:6 says that the woman will be 'nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.' This explains why Jesus said that the Jews are not to even stop and get anything from their homes when they have to flee. God will provide and 'nourish' them. It is possible that they will once again be fed manna from heaven. But however God feeds them, they simply have to obey and go to the place He has provided for them!

The dragon doesn't give up...

Rev 12:15-16 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. (16) But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

We read that this serpent-dragon doesn't give up easily and spews something like a river after the woman. It is difficult to know exactly what this is. It could be a literal flood. It could symbolically speak of an army (waters are often used to speak of peoples and nations - Rev 17:15) to overcome the woman. But we read that the earth helped the woman! It opened its mouth and swallowed this river, protecting the woman. Amazing. God will not be outdone! It reminds us of the days of old, during the rebellion of Korah against Moses, when God literally opened the earth and swallowed those alive that rebelled! 

Num 16:28-32 Moses said, "By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. (29) "If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. (30) "But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD." (31) As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; (32) and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions.'

God's purpose in the midst of trouble

Whether this is a literal flood of water or the flood of a human or demonic army, one thing is sure:

Isa 59:19, When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him. 

This is an important scripture to remember for our day as well. If we spend all our time looking at what is happening to the world it is easy to focus too much on what the enemy is doing and forget what God is doing! Remember that God always uses difficult times for His good. Believer, if the land in which you live, or your own personal life, suffers greater difficulty in the coming days, realize that God allows such things to fulfill His purposes. When the enemy comes on strong, the Lord comes on stronger. And He will use the coming difficult times to draw more people into His Kingdom in the limited time that remains before His judgement falls.


Rev 12:17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Enraged at his failure to overcome the woman, the 2nd half of the tribulation period will become an open season to hunt all believers. Satan turns his rage against all followers of the Lamb, whether they be Jew or Gentile. So to conclude, we've seen that after this war in heaven, the war will come to earth - especially for the nation of Israel and those that believe in the Lord Jesus. To sum it up, here is why the dragon hates the woman so much.

Why the Dragon (Satan) hates the Woman (Israel)

The prophecies, which Satan knows, declare that the return of Jesus depend upon the national repentance of Israel. Hosea prophesied of the Lord Jesus leaving following His rejection, stating: 

Hos 5:15-6:3 I will go away and return to My place Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. (6:1) "Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. (2) "He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him. 

Jesus Himself said the same, that Israel, as a nation, would not see Him again until they acknowledged that He is their Messiah:

Mat 23:37-39 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. (38) "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! (39) "For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'"

And thus the ancient conflict continues with Satan focusing His attention on destroying the Jewish people and preventing the return of Jesus. The dragon hates the woman because it is the woman that brought forth the Messiah the first time and it is her repentance and looking in faith that will bring the Messiah the second time! 

  • This explains the centuries of hardship they endured during their dispersion into all the nations of the world.
  • This explains the satanic hatred Hitler had for the Jews in his genocidal attempt at 'the final solution'.
  • This explains the United Nations preoccupation with condemning and passing resolutions against Israel today.
  • This explains the coming terrible 'day of Jacob's trouble' which shall see 2/3 of the Jews killed (Zech 13:8-9)

It is all the final attempt of a crazed and defeated dragon at wiping out the woman to prevent her from bringing forth her child once again, Jesus, at the second coming.

But the dragon will fail. The woman will be protected. Through God, she will endure to the end. She will believe in, and look to, her Messiah who will come and save her. And He will deal with this hideous dragon at the same time! 

So thus ends a pretty epic chapter! We've seen that it portrays an ancient conflict that is about to come to its ultimate conclusion! And believers are part of this battle. May we be those that obey God, trust in the blood of the Lamb and hold to the testimony of Jesus! God bless!  


  1. William Newell speaks of four different judgements upon Satan:

    "It will be well to remember the successive steps in Satan’s judgment:
    1. He is cast, as the “covering-cherub” as “profane” from the midst of “the stones of fire,” that is, from his first place as leader, evidently, of the worship of God in heaven (Eze_28:14-16). This, I have always felt, is what our Lord meant in Luk_10:1-42, “I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven.” The brightness of this being would make his fall as “lightning.” Also, the distance from his former glories, even to that “place in heaven” he now holds as the accuser, would be great and absolute.
    2. He is cast down, here in Rev_12:1-17, from whatever position he is allowed at present (as in Job_1:12; 1Ki_22:21; Zec_3:1), to the earth.
    3. He is cast into the abyss, in the center of the earth, at Christ’s coming, and there spends 1,000 years (Rev_20:1-3).
    4. Upon being released at the Millennium’s end “for a little season,” and leading men again in desperate rebellion against God and His people, he is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone forever (Rev_20:10)."

  2. Another mind boggling insight into what takes place in heaven is given in 1Ki 22:19-22 - "Micaiah continued, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. (20) And the LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?' "One suggested this, and another that. (21) Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.' (22) 'By what means?' the LORD asked. 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said. " 'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. 'Go and do it.' "

  3. “The ancient city of Bozrah was located in the region of Mount Seir. Mount Seir is a very rocky range of mountains, and its name means the ‘hairy mountains.’ This fulfills the 6 requirements of the Matthew passage. It is located in the wilderness section of ancient Edom and so fulfills the requirement of the Revelation passage. The very nature of the chain of mountains of Mount Seir makes it quite defensible, fulfilling the requirements of the Isaiah passage.… Today the area is in southern Jordan.”
    Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah

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