What is the Correct Interpretation of Isaiah 4:1?

by sighandcry on May 24, 2014

 Whom are We to Believe in Regard to Isaiah 4:1?

An explanation of Isaiah 4:1, the denominational publication (not only published and owned by the denomination, but also indorsed and used by the Sabbath School Department throughout the world in 1928, Isaiah, the Gospel Prophet, Vol. 1, p. 28, says:

“Seven women, one man. Seven is the complete number. ‘Women’ represents a church (Rev. 12:1, 2; 17:3), but in this case not the true or pure church for there is a reproach. How true it is today that the churches will not accept the bread that came down from heaven, but rather eat their own food — the traditions of men. They want the name, but reject the garment which Christ provides, and hence will be found at last without the wedding garment.”

Though in 1928, through the Sabbath School publication, Isaiah, the Gospel Prophet, the denomination officially taught the foregoing interpretation of Isaiah 4:1, yet in 1931, through the general church paper, the Review and Herald, she just as officially taught an entirely different interpretation; to wit:

“It is generally understood that this is a figurative description of conditions that would prevail in Israel because of wars in which so many of the men would be killed that there would be a large preponderance of women. We are not to seek for mathematical exactness in such matters of Biblical prophecy.

“We would not be understood as seeking to find the fulfillment of this prophecy in the War of 1914-1918, but it is true, nevertheless, that in several of the countries of Europe the women greatly outnumber the men, because millions of men lost their lives in that titanic struggle. This is a condition that may be repeated in that Great War that even now threatens the world.” — Review and Herald, June 11, 1931.

Consider further the more recent application of this scripture as a justification to take fellow believers to court in the landmark Florida trademark trial between the S. D. A. corporate Church and the Eternal Gospel Church in direct violation of Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy (I Cor 6:1-7, 3 SM 299). In an official Conference publication entitled “Religious Liberty Report,” Winter 1999/2000 No. 012, filed by Clarence E. Hodges, Director of the Religious Liberty Department, North American Division, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, we read the following attempt to justify such an action:

“Does It Matter If Others Call Themselves Seventh-day Adventists?

There are those who do not understand why Seventh-day Adventists seek to protect the name Seventh-day Adventist by not allowing other groups to use the that name. Some think it will be good for others to call themselves Adventists if their teachings are similar to ours. Why would anyone wish to use someone’s else’s name? Isaiah may have the answer. “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.” (Isaiah 4:1)

Some groups do not have “good names” so they wish to use another. If we allow that, they may soon destroy the good name of God’s people. They can destroy credit ratings by not paying their bills. They can turn others away from Christ by not being “kind, courteous, and tender hearted.” And if their officers, workers, or volunteers commit a crime against a child or an adult, we could be sued because we allowed them to identified as a part of our body. If any group wants to be called Seventh-day Adventist, they should become Seventh-day Adventist, hold up the standards, love as Jesus loved, and help finish His work of saving souls. Otherwise, as good stewards, we must protect the name from Satan’s efforts to deceive and or destroy that name.”

We shall not attempt at this moment to explain Isaiah 4:1, but we do request the General Conference to tell us which interpretation we should believe, the former or the latter [two choices]. For, being in disagreement, they both [all] cannot be right, and hence to indorse either or both [all] would be to give sanction to hypothesizing, with the consequence that instead of helping our leading brethren to depart from this perilous course, we would only be confirming and advancing them in it.

Those who let others think and investigate for them instead of investigating for themselves, and who thus accept the decisions of the leading brethren (who claim to be “the men of experience”), must, if asked what they believe on the subject of Isaiah 4:1, in all honesty answer, We know not what we believe. Consider further this council from Sis. White:

“Even Seventh-day Adventists are in danger of closing their eyes to truth as it is in Jesus, because it contradicts something which they have taken for granted as truth, but which the Holy Spirit teaches is not truth…. But beware of rejecting that which is truth. The great danger with our people has been that of depending upon men, and making flesh their arm. Those who have not been in the habit of searching the Bible for themselves, or weighing evidence, have confidence in the leading men, and accept the decisions they make; and thus many will reject the very messages God sends to His people, if these leading brethren do not accept them.” Says Satan: “The people accept their ministers’ explanations of Scripture, and do not investigate for themselves. Therefore by working through the ministers, I can control the people according to my will.” – Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 70, 106, 107, 473.

In view of these facts lets look closer at the scripture for its intended meaning.

“And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread [man-made doctrines], and wear our own apparel [righteousness]: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.” Isaiah 4:1 (brackets added)

“It is an admitted fact that the women spoken of here [Isa 4:1] represent churches. The Biblical number “seven” is used as a symbol, meaning “all,” therefore the symbol does not exclude any, but means “all.” The Spirit of Prophecy bears witness to this by saying the number “seven” indicates completeness. Acts of the Apostles, page 585. Naturally it would include Seventh-day Adventists as well, otherwise it would not be “all.” While these women are refusing the instructions of Christ through His Word and His righteousness, symbolized by the bread and apparel, they wished to be called by His name (Christians).” – Shepherd’s Rod, Vol. 1, p. 218

“The fact that there is the name of blasphemy on the heads [beast of Rev 13:1] is an additional proof that they can only represent religious organizations, for blasphemy is equivalent to hypocrisy, and hypocrisy means an attempt to mix the sacred with the common. But the Lord says: “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews [Christians], and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” (Rev. 2:9.) (bold added)

“Note that the beast has “seven” heads; the “one” was wounded but the “six” are not. The head, which received the wound, is being interpreted to be the papal head, wounded by “Martin Luther.” The stroke being delivered by the true Biblical doctrine taught by Luther, the result was that Protestantism came on the stage of action in opposition to the “head.” This is what made the “wound.” The statement being true, then as long as Protestantism remains loyal to Bible principles, and the head in existence, that sore (wound) would remain open. But if Protestantism should depart from their pledge “the Bible, and the Bible only,” or refuse new light the wound would be healed, and the world would wonder after the beast (apostasy).” – Shepherds Rod, Vol. 1, p. 216

Therefore, true Protestantism, the acceptance of truth as God sends it, is what kept the papal head wounded. When Luther preached the truth, “the just shall live by faith”, the faithful Christians accepted it; this inflicted the wound and began to weaken Papal Rome’s church-state confederacy. When the Protestant Nations finally overthrew this confederacy it caused the union between church and state to be separated. Therefore, it would be impossible for the leopard-like beast to have a wounded head (papacy) without the second head (Lutheran church), which inflicted the wound. Only true Protestantism could then keep the wound irritated, so that it would never heal. But since the seven women (churches) are the same as the seven heads, then it means that the Lutheran Church gradually departed from the spirit of true Protestantism, and began to practice hypocrisy, which is blasphemy. Thus, the papal wound would have been healed had God not sent another Reformation truth; the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, preached by John Knox, but it was rejected. So God rose up the Presbyterian Church to keep the wound irritated by the spirit of true Protestantism. This church also fell into blasphemy, and the Lord sent the doctrine of grace, preached by John Wesley, which was likewise rejected, and the Methodist Church was raised up to keep the wound irritated; but it too fell to blasphemy like all the others. Next, Alexander Campbell preached the doctrine of baptism by immersion, which was rejected as well by the other churches, so the Baptist Church was raised up. Then William Miller preached the doctrine of the 2300 days, which was rejected by all the other churches, and so the First-day Adventist movement was raised up to keep the wound irritated. But as each of these churches fell to hypocrisy, the “name of blasphemy” sits upon the six “heads” (six churches): the Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, and the First-day Adventists. Finally, to keep the wound irritated, the Lord sent Ellen G. White in 1844 to teach the 2300 day prophecy in the context of the judgment of the dead in the heavenly sanctuary, and later the seventh-day Sabbath.

“But “Seventh-day Adventists” came on the stage of action [1844], thus keeping the thorn in the wound by being proclaimed the only true Protestants since that time. This being so, then as long as Seventh-day Adventists (as a body) remain true to the principles and doctrines, which built this great movement, the wound cannot be healed, neither can it be said “all the world wondered after the beast.” - Shepherds Rod, Vol. 1, p. 217

Church Turns Back from Following Christ

But we read from the Spirit of Prophecy how the S. D. A. church began to turn her back from following Christ. We see, like all the other churches, that the SDA church, the last of the seven heads having the most truth, also blasphemed God by its hypocrisy. Consider this appeal written by one of the church founders in 1882.

“I am filled with sadness when I think of our condition as a people. The Lord has not closed heaven to us, but our own course of continual backsliding has separated us from God…. The church [SDA] has turned back from following Christ her Leader and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power.” – Testimonies Vol. 5, p. 217

This statement written in 1882 clearly indicates that though the Seventh-day Adventist church today is still God’s true church, their “continual backsliding” had caused them to turn their backs to Christ, which prepared them to reject Jesus in the form of the “truth” (Jn 14:6) of the “Righteousness of Christ,” when it was presented to them by elders A. T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner in 1888 at the General Conference meeting in Minneapolis.

“The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Savior, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God.” – Testimonies to Ministers, p. 91.2

“An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord’s message through Brethren {E.J.} Waggoner and {A.T.} Jones. By exciting that opposition Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world.” – Selected Messages, Vol. 1, p. 234.6

So we see that the Seventh-day Adventist leaders rejected the message of “Righteousness of Christ” in 1888, and by 1890 it was also rejected by the majority of the laity. Therefore, the last of the Protestant Churches lost the spirit of true Protestantism, proving that they were practicing hypocrisy—eating their own “bread” (doctrines of men, Mt. 15:7-9), and wearing their own “apparel (self-righteousness). Thus, “the name of blasphemy” (hypocrisy—Rev 2:9) is upon all the “seven heads” (Catholic and six Protestant Churches).

The Seventh Head (Church) is not Babylon

However, as there is a distinct difference between the one Catholic “head” (being wounded), and the other six Protestant heads (unwounded), so there is a distinct difference between the last (seventh) Protestant head (Seventh-day Adventists), and the other four Protestant “heads” (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, and the many sects that branched from them). The Spirit-led Christian can understand the difference by witnessing the Babylon of confusion and church competition which these four Protestant Churches have caused by their rejecting their rejecting one or more of the six Reformation doctrines (faith, Holy Spirit, grace, baptism, 2300 days, Sabbath), and their teaching pagan false doctrines (christmas, easter, Sunday-keeping, etc.) This great Babylon of confusion among these four main Protestant Churches has split Christendom into hundreds of splinter groups, all teaching one or more of the six Reformation doctrines. Thus they are guilty of teaching man’s doctrines mixed with some truth, a strict violation of Scripture, which says that “No Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Pet. 1:20).

Protestant Churches are Called Babylon

“Many of the Protestant churches are following [Papal] Rome’s example of iniquitous connection with “the kings of the earth”–the state churches, by their relation to secular governments; and other denominations, by seeking the favor of the world. And the term “Babylon”–confusion–may be appropriately applied to these bodies, all professing to derive their doctrines from the Bible, yet divided into almost innumerable sects, with widely conflicting creeds and theories.” - Great Controversy, p. 383.1

“The fallen denominational churches are Babylon. Babylon has been fostering poisonous doctrines, the wine of error. This wine of error is made up of false doctrines, such as the natural immortality of the soul, the eternal torment of the wicked, the denial of the pre-existence of Christ prior to His birth in Bethlehem, and advocating and exalting the first day of the week above God’s holy and sanctified day.” – Testimonies to Ministers, p. 61

“Many who professed conversion still clung to the tenets of their pagan philosophy, and not only continued its study themselves, but urged it upon others as a means of extending their influence among the heathen. Serious errors were thus introduced into the Christian faith. Prominent among these was the belief in man’s natural immortality and his consciousness in death. This doctrine laid the foundation upon which Rome established the invocation of saints and the adoration of the Virgin Mary. From this sprang also the heresy of eternal torment for the finally impenitent, which was early incorporated into the papal faith.” – Great Controversy, p. 58.2

Keeping Pagan Customs—Christmas, Easter, Sunday Worship

“The present system of worship by so-called Christian institutions is unquestionably pagan. Sunday, Christmas, and Easter keeping, etc., originated in ancient Babylon, from the old pagan religion in honor of the sun god. Christians, in modern times, assume to honor the most High God with pagan customs calling them “Christian Doctrines.” Protestantism has taken a grip on these pagan festivals as a leech on a human body. As the sluggard sucks the blood unaware that his satisfaction brings him to destruction, just so with Protestants and their pagan commemoratives, even daring to call them by the name of Christ. Blasphemy indeed! Every student of ancient history knows this to be true; likewise every Bible student knows these so-called Christian festivals are unbiblical as well as unchristian. If these institutions were Christian, or Biblical, they would certainly have been spoken of in the Bible. But since they are not found in the Word of God, Christians had better leave them alone lest they be found worshiping the dragon.” – Shepherds Rod, Vol. 2, p. 99

“The widely used Christmas tree, on the 25th of December — a tree cut down from its source of life and fastened up by nails — does not symbolize a birth, but rather one’s death and a futile effort to make him live. By cutting down the tree, to the heathen it symbolized their dead chief, and by propping it up, it symbolized life though one be dead. Now the fact that the spurious Christmas tree is widely celebrated not only by Christians, but also by non-Christians, the world by this act is worshiping the dead, a form of Shintoism. Worshiping the dead prophets and killing the living ones, is a brutal effort to block the progress of Truth, to deceive self and others.” — Timely Greetings Vol. 2, No. 26, p.23

“With the proclamation of the fall of Babylon, it was announced that the so-called Christian festivals, such as Sunday keeping, Christmas, and Easter, also baptism by sprinkling, and other false doctrines were unbiblical and of pagan origin. But as ancient Babylon failed to renounce the pagan system of worship, and adopt the worship of the only true God, just so, present day Christendom has refused to reform or turn from these practices.” – Shepherds Rod, Vol. 2, p. 273

These Protestant Churches with their multitudes of sects are called “Babylon” for two principle reasons: (1) they do not accept all of the Reformation doctrines. (2) They teach and practice many pagan false doctrines. This confusion is not part of the seventh and last “head” (SDA church) which teaches in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy all of the six Reformation doctrines and does not teach pagan false doctrines. Therefore, they are not guilty of spreading confusion in Christendom concerning these six Reformation doctrines. These two facts must distinctly separate God’s church from the other five Protestant Churches, proving conclusively that the Seventh-day Adventist Church cannot be Babylon, nor can it be part of her.

The True Church of God is Laodicea, not Babylon

“Those who assert that the Seventh-day Adventist churches constitute Babylon, or any part of Babylon, might better stay at home. Let them stop and consider what is the message to be proclaimed at this time.” – Testimonies to Ministers, p. 37

“When anyone arises, either among us or outside of us, who is burdened with a message which declares that the people of God are numbered with Babylon, and claims that the loud cry is a call to come out of her, you may know that he is not bearing the message of truth.” – Testimonies to Ministers, p. 41

“Jesus is coming in to give the individual members of the church the richest blessings, if they will open the door to Him. He does not once call them Babylon, nor ask them to come out. But He says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten” (with messages of reproof and warning) (Rev. 3:19).” – Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 67.1

The Seventh-day Adventist church may be in an even worse condition, — so much worse, in fact, that she does not even know that she is “wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked’ (Rev. 3:17); yet in spite of it all, she is called “Laodicea,” not Babylon. And her members stand, not to be called out as do those in Babylon, but rather to be left in, and her “angel” (leadership) stands to be spued out.” – Answerer Book, No. 4, p. 79

However, though the Seventh-day Adventist church is not Babylon, she still has the “the name of blasphemy” on her head (Rev 13:1), because she rejected the message of “The Righteousness of Christ” (1888 to 1890).


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

nomatter May 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Amen! this is wonderful truth as it is. May God richly bless this site in a very special way. I wish Icould get my own volume 2 shepherd’s rod . Im sure it contain good present truth lessons. I’m blessed with these lessons. God bless you all

the voice December 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm

when we believe or assume there are no other revelations of God apart from the scriptural book[bible], we display our human wisdom, and make ourselves enemies of Christ.-Read John’s gospel14:26,21:25. May the Holy Spirit help us, in Jesus name-AMEN
the Shepherd’s Rod is not right on its write-ups.
Jesus only is our truth

sighandcry December 23, 2017 at 7:20 pm

Dear Voice:

Your argument that we need not look for any prophetic guidance in these last days is not rooted in the Bible or the teachings of Jesus for it plainly tells us to not “despise prophesyings” (1 Thess. 5:20) and to believe in His prophets and so shall we prosper (2 Chron. 20:20). We are also commanded to hear ye the Rod and He who hath appointed it (Micah 6:9). So please hear the following presentation which proves that we need latter day prophets to rightly understand and divide the word of Truth.

Pleadings of the Holy Ghost:
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.” 2 Pet. 1:19, 20.
But the hue and cry of the opposition is, Away with prophecies at this time! For all the prophets and the law

“Prophesied Until John.” Matt. 11:13.

If the aforequoted scripture means that there were to be no more prophets after John, then there should have been none since that time. And were this the meaning, then the Scriptures would contradict themselves, for they bear evidence that while Christ was the Son of God, He was also “a prophet.” Luke 24:19. And although John the Baptist never wrote a single prophetic utterance, yet he was rated by Christ with the greatest of the prophets (Luke 7:28). Also Matthew, Mark, and Luke, under the Spirit of Inspiration, wrote concerning Christ and His work. Likewise John, Peter, and Paul, and others contemporary with them, prophesied in their own right of many things to come. All these are Scripturally accorded the title “prophet.”

Jesus Himself testifies that the book of Revelation is a prophecy, for the angel “who bare record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw” says: “Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Rev. 1:2, 3. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” Rev. 22:18.

Now the fact that this prophecy was written nearly a century after John the Baptist was beheaded, is historical acknowledgment that the prophets did not cease with him. Thus in misconstruing Matthew 11:13 so as to make John the last of the prophets, the opposition is attempting to substitute for the gift of prophecy in the Christian era, “private” (uninspired) interpretations of the Scriptures. And in doing this, they are led either to ignore or to try to explain away the irrefutable statement of Paul: “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:28) — absolute evidence that the second of the eight gifts to the church in the Christian era, is prophets.

While most of these gifts, especially tongues and governments, are zealously sought after by the Christian churches, the one — “prophets” — that was despised by the Jews, is wholly rejected by almost all Christendom! Thus the spirit that instigated the killing of the ancient seers at the hand of the Jewish leaders, is today doing virtually the same sort of destructive work through organized opposition.

While ascribing praise and honor to the dead prophets who were slain by the forefathers, the Jews rejected the living prophets, thereby bringing upon themselves the Master’s mournful pronouncement:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.” Matt. 23:29, 30.

Present-day Christians who despise the gift of prophecy in this age, and also deny that the Old Testament Scriptures have any application in the gospel dispensation, are thereby rejecting all the prophets, while at the same time acknowledging that they were the servants of God. So such church-members continue to build and garnish the tombs of the prophets as did the Jews who claimed to believe in Moses but, when tested, were found to be liars. In like manner most Christians today profess to believe the whole Bible, yet teach that all the laws and statutes, all the warnings and condemnations, apply only to the ancient Jews, whereas the graces they eagerly bosom within the Christian church!

The present-day so-called gift of tongues is gibberish, and is no more the Biblical gift than is Sunday the “sanctified” Sabbath day; and the gift of governments is degenerated into an institution of prerogatives, formalities, goals, and the like, which, in their present low estate, are naught but agencies which in effect militate against the Truth and neutralize the piety of the church. In this state of affairs, do the best of these professed Christians of today seem better than the worst of yesterday’s Jews? {TN6: 8.1}

“Awake, awake,” cries the Word, “loose thyself from the” man-wrought “bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” Isa 52:2. “Quench not the Spirit,” O church of God! “Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thess. 5:19-21.

Do not longer overlook the fact that the gift of prophets is second in order, and the gifts of governments and diversity of tongues are last. Mark, therefore, that those who despise the gift of prophecy but exalt the gifts of governments and tongues, are manifestly pulling the cart from its rear end, and are going in the wrong direction. To them Christ is saying: “Knowest not that thou are wretched and miserable, and poor and blind, and naked.’ Rev. 3:17.

Those who on the one hand contend that there were to be no prophets after John the Baptist, and who on the other hand profess to believe in the New Testament Scriptures which were written after John’s death, are themselves in darkness, and are, by their private (uninspired) interpretations of the Scriptures spreading a cloud of darkness wherever they go. May God have mercy on them all.

In the light of these facts Jesus’ statement that “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John,” obviously has a wholly different meaning from what has been taught by uninspired men. When it is illuminated by the same Spirit Who indicted it, the resultant interpretation is trouble-free, revealing that Christ separated the prophets into a twofold classification — those until John and those after him.

Sacred history shows that the prophets in the first division received the Word directly from God through the medium of His Spirit. They were not obliged to prove any part of their prophecies by the writings of the preceding prophets. Whereas the prophets in the second division are appointed by the unction of the Spirit to interpret the writings of the prophets of the first division.

This all-important distinction and division shows that the Old Testament Scriptures contain the light of our salvation for both periods — Jewish and Christian. And when one considers that the former period is called the “typical” dispensation, and the latter the “antitypical,” then evidence upon evidence rivets the conclusion that the New Testament gospel is based on the gospel of the Old unfolded.

Since the Scriptures explain that the church in all ages has been led into truth only through the gift of prophecy, the Christian has no choice but to conclude that God’s will and plan for this time is just as it was for times past; that is, that the knowledge of salvation be imparted through the writings of the Old Testament prophets, as interpreted by those upon whom, as the scroll unfolds, He bestows the same Spirit by which He moved upon “holy men of God” “in old time.” 2 Pet. 1:21. “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Mal. 3:6.

God would have ever kept Christendom unified through Inspiration, revealed truth, but uninspired men would not humble themselves and forego their own private interpretations, with the tragic result that they have brought the present shameful sectarian confusion.

Such an anarchy of opinion on the Scriptures existing not only between one denomination and another, but also within the ranks of each one itself, makes clear that they are not led by the Spirit Whom Christ sent to “guide…into all truth” so that all believers in Him might be as one.” –Tract No. 6, pp. 4-10

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