Some of you may have heard this statement: “The ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic was built by professionals.” Of course the ark saved the human race and many kinds of animals from extinction while the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank during its maiden voyage. The meaning of the saying is that those who obey God can accomplish more good than well trained professionals who rely on their own wisdom.
While I agree with the intent of this statement I wonder just how true it is. Was the ark built by amateurs? We are told nothing about how Noah made his living before building the ark. It is possible that he and his sons were professional shipbuilders. If this is so, then the ark and the Titanic were both built by professionals.
When God calls someone to work for him he usually prepares that person by giving him the skills he will need. We can see that in the story of Joseph, found in Genesis 39-41. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and bought by Potiphar, the captain of the guard.
The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. (Genesis 39:2-6)
Joseph was placed in charge of Potiphar’s household and he did his job well. Later he was thrown into prison and the same thing happened.
But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed. (Genesis 39:21-23)
He was placed in charge of the other prisoners. This was probably an even bigger job than the one he had held under Potiphar. I believe that God gave him these jobs to train him for the even bigger responsibility he would later have under Pharaoh. He interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and told him there would be seven years of bountiful crops followed by seven years of famine, and he gave him this advice.
“Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”
This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?”
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”
Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt.Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:33-44)
If God trained Joseph by allowing him to be an administrator over Potiphar’s household and over a prison I think it is likely that he also prepared Noah by giving him experience in shipbuilding before he had him construct the ark. Since Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came he would have had time to learn more that one occupation. He demonstrated this after the flood.
Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. (Genesis 9:20)
He obviously knew farming as well as shipbuilding.
Noah wasn’t alone on the ark. He had a wife, three sons, and three daughters-in-law. God had called all of them to the task of saving mankind and I have no doubt that among them they possessed all of the skills needed to establish a new civilization.