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Christian Economics in One Lesson, II: 5: Profit, Thrift, and Tools

Written by Gary North on April 30, 2016

And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, l will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shall pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of if thirty cubits (Gen. 6:13-15).

Noah was given a warning from God: a flood was coming. He was given an assignment by God. To preserve life for the post-flood earth, Noah would have to build an ark. He was given a blueprint for the ark. So far, this was all God’s doing. But Noah needed four other things to enable him to complete this assignment: belief in God’s ability to bring His word to pass, obedience to God’s word, the blessings of God on his labors, and time. By the grace of God, he received them all.

Let us consider what God was saying. First, His long-term goal was to enable mankind to extend the original dominion assignment given to Adam (Gen. 1:26-28). We know this because, after the flood waters receded, “God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Gen. 9:1). The dominion covenant extended beyond Adam’s pre-fall world.

Second, in order to accomplish this task through mankind, God required Noah and his family to devote time, raw materials, and labor to the task of building an ark. Noah and his family would have to apply these scarce economic resources to the task of ark-building rather than to other tasks or to immediate consumption. This meant that the cost of mankind’s attainment of long-term survival and economic reconstruction after the flood was the reduction of one family’s consumption in the present and the immediate future. They had to re-allocate assets that could have been used for their immediate consumption. They had to forfeit the pleasures of consuming. For example, the time that would otherwise have been available for leisure activities was an obvious re-allocated asset. While completing the ark, Noah would have agreed with John Wesley’s words: “Leisure and I have parted company.” Noah invested present assets for the sake of future output — or as the case literally was, input: putting himself, his family, and the animals into the ark.

Obviously, there was no market demand for the ark. There was no group of venture capitalists ready to put up their own money to finance the ark. There was not even a government agency ready to fund this project, however ready government agencies have been in history to fund high-risk crackpot projects with taxpayers’ funds.

The Covenantal Structure of Profit

God did not reveal to anyone else His plan to kill every creature on land. He told only Noah. Noah was in possession of the most important piece of exclusive information in the history of man. He could profit from it. He could save his life and the lives of his family members. In the investment world, such exclusive information is called inside information. Because Noah possessed this inside information, and because he believed it and acted upon it, he was able to profit from it. He received what can safely be called in retrospect an above-market rate of return. It was way above market: several thousand feet of water.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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