The story of the Netherlands is a story of the sea! Uniquely, the Dutch fulfill an ancient prophecy pertaining to one of the tribes of the so-called lost 10 tribes of the House of Israel. Zebulun’s descendents were to “dwell at the haven of the sea” and “be for an haven of ships” (Gen. 49:13). Moreover they were to rejoice “in (their) going out” (Deut. 33:18).
These ancient prophecies have been fulfilled in the Dutch, a seagoing colonizing people. Is it mere coincidence?
Before 1000 A.D., it is said that the Dutch were content to “let God’s water flow over God’s land.” After that time they began to resist the natural flow of the sea waters.
The prophet Jeremiah reveals that God “placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it” (Jere. 5:22).
God himself determined the basic limits and boundaries of the sea. Yet he permits nature to alter the coastline over long epochs of time. And he has allowed the Dutch peoples to artificially extend and straighten their coastlines.
Around 2,000 years ago the Roman historian Tacitus described, what is now know as the Netherlands, as an inhospitable area, neither land nor sea, a marsh intersected by numerous creeks. No real progress came about until a millennium had passed. Then the struggle really began.
The first efforts were rather primitive and could only be accomplished at low tide. Then came the invention of the windmill and later the steam engine to pump out the water much more efficiently.
In more modern times, the reclaiming of land from the sea has been boiled down to a simple process known as impoldering. It is the conversion of submerged land into fertile polders (a polder is a piece of low-lying reclaimed land) through dikes and drainage.
The first step is to build a dike around that portion of sea area to be reclaimed. When this construction was completed there is, of course, water still on both sides of the dike. This problem was simply solved by the careful placement of one or more pumping stations. After the dike is closed, the water is then drained out of the designated area by modern pumping equipment. It takes a number of months, but the bottom of a new polder will gradually emerge. Wheat fields can actually be found in bloom in the third year after reclamation.
As an ongoing process, a vast network of dunes and dikes has been built to promote and protect the west and north of the Netherlands. Continually at risk are the densely populated areas encompassing Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. The danger is never altogether past. A dike can never be too strong.
Dutch engineers have not forgotten their land level is gradually sinking (one twenty-fifth of an inch a year) and the sea level is rising. On rare occasions in the past the sea has swept over the dikes to penetrate the polders and do untold damage to land and property. The sea level and weather factors are continually monitored and fresh ideas and efforts to defend the reclaimed lands are part of an ongoing plan of survival.
But creating and protecting a polder is not an end in itself. New lands must produce abundant crops and support herds of healthy livestock. New towns and villages must be constructed to serve and shelter the people who come to live in the new polder area.
However imperfectly, the Dutch peoples have followed some vital biblical principles in their overall planning and construction. For instance, barns are almost always built before farmhouses. What does Solomon say in the book of Proverbs? “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house” (Prov. 24:27).
Monocultures are not allowed. Trees are planted to attract beneficial birds and insects. Scientifically discovered ecological principles and a sense of balance in nature are encouraged. Farmhouses are usually built in twos so neighboring farmers can help each other.
Of course conditions in Holland are far from perfect. Much of Dutch culture is still not what it should be. Amsterdam has become a mecca for dangerous drugs and illicit sex. Crimes of all description are on the increase in the Netherlands.
For such immorality and law breaking, the wise among the Dutch are aware that retribution cannot be far behind. The nation will have to be punished to one degree or the other, along with the rest of the modern descendants of the ancient 10 tribes of the House of Israel residing in Northwestern Europe, the British Isles, the Commonwealth nations and the United States.
But after this prophesied coming period of severe divine correction, God will usher in a new era of unparalleled growth and development – both spiritually and materially. This millennial utopia will be marked by the restitution of all right things (Acts 3:21) and will offer those with a proper pioneering spirit a unique opportunity to rebuild and redevelop the surface of this physical earth.
It is then that the Dutch peoples will truly come into their own. Centuries of struggling with the sea have produced a fund of creative knowledge that is unsurpassed in the field of land reclamation and real estate development. That knowledge will be put to a vital use in the fulfillment of God’s master plan.
Notice the prophet Ezekiel’s description of the New World to come. “Thus saith the Lord God; in the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities (first the punishment) I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. And the desolate land shall be tilled. And they shall say, this land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited” (Ezk. 36:33-35).