Putting on the Cloak of Zeal

God looked and saw evil looming on the horizon—so much evil and no sign of Justice. He couldn’t believe what he saw: not a soul around to correct this awful situation. So he did it himself, took on the work of Salvation, fueled by his own Righteousness. He dressed in Righteousness, put it on like a suit of armor, with Salvation on his head like a helmet, Put on Judgment like an overcoat, and threw a cloak of Passion (Zeal) across his shoulders.

Isaiah 59:15-17 (MSG)

Winter is the perfect time to wrap up in something warm and protective against the wind, rain, and chill of the season.  Putting on the right clothing for the weather, as well as outdoor sports or special occasions is something we do out of necessity, but it is also a way to show our identity or character.  The colors, fabrics, and style say everything about who we are.

As people today confront injustice, they often adopt symbols and styles to express their judgment over oppressive systems and situations. The prophet Isaiah tells us that God also dresses in response to injustice with a suit of armor to protect his people and purposes. God’s righteousness is “put on” as a breastplate, with the “helmet of salvation on his head, the garments of vengeance (judgment), and the cloak of zeal (passion).

The cloak of zeal, in God’s armor, represents the authority and passion to move forward as one commissioned for a purpose.  As God Himself is zealous and fervently passionate about His people and purposes, we also can be wrapped with zeal, energized to bring justice to all people. We can trust the One who has called us with authority and sends us out with promise of His presence forever.

Another use of the cloak as a symbol in the Old Testament is found in the story of the prophet Elijah. Nearing the end of his ministry, Elijah throws his cloak around Elisha as a mantle of calling and service: 

The Call of Elisha.  So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.  Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”  So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

1 Kings 19:19-21

With the cloak of zeal now on his shoulders, Elisha takes up his new mission by offering the tools of his former way of life as a sacrifice to God and then saying goodbye to his family and friends.  Putting on the calling and authority of the cloak of zeal, Elisha let go of life as he knew it and moved forward with adventurous obedience.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul uses this same imagery to symbolize “putting on” Christ and his character. (“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” Rom 13:14; and “Put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience” Col 3:12)  Using the imagery of the Divine Armor in Isaiah 59, Paul also urges us to “put on” the armor of God, the strength of God’s might. Read Paul’s description of the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18 and compare it with Isaiah’s armor. Notice that Paul does not mention the cloak of zeal, which seems odd since the red cloak or cape worn by soldiers was a symbol of Roman power and authority.

Reflect and Practice:

  • On rainy cold days, throwing on a comfortable hoodie, or wrapping up in a warm scarf is just the right way to prepare to meet the elements.  Visualize throwing “zeal” around your shoulders, your passion for Christ, as you start your day or your project.  Close your eyes and imagine yourself getting dressed for your calling as a disciple and witness. What piece of armor do you most need right now?
  • Read about “Epaphras, a bondservant of Christ,” (Col 4:12-13), who is “always laboring fervently in prayer” for his friends that they “may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Paul describes his friend as one “who has great zeal for you.”  What difference would “putting on the cloak of zeal” make in your prayers and in your relationships?
  • Is there an area of your life or ministry where you have just been going through the motions, in a rut of routine?  Pray through Isaiah 59:15-17 and 1 Kings 19: 19-21. What word or phrase stands out to you? Spend some time imagining the cloak of zeal being wrapped around you.


Accountability:

  • Passion is not an emotion we can force or try to manufacture with our will.  The Spirit of God equips us with the gifts and enables us with power.  Passion in the context of a holy zeal for God’s people and purposes is also passed on through the community and our leaders who mentor us, pray for us, and hold us accountable. “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (Paul to his disciple Timothy in 2 Tim 1:6.)  Are you in a community, small group or mentoring relationship where spiritual leaders can hold you accountable?  Who can you look to as an Elijah that will pass on zeal for your calling and purpose?

Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

7 Comments Add yours

  1. brucekmac6 says:

    Thanks Robbi! You communicate so well!
    Blessings,
    Bruce

    Like

  2. Jeanette says:

    Mom, I’m so glad you started this! I’m a huge believer in you and your ability to help others see God through your writings and devotions.

    Luv u mom and so proud of everything u’ve accomplished thus far and exciting new things too come. I’m a follower for life! 😊🌻💚

    Like

  3. Marco Volpa says:

    Howdy! I just want to offer you a huge thumbs up for your great information you have right here on this post. I will be returning to your web site for more soon.

    Like

  4. James Rodriguez says:

    This is my first time on the website and won’t be my last. I will be sharing with friends and family. I came into the website after researching cloak in the Bible. The Lord spoke to be about putting on MY CLOAK.
    Thank you for your obedience and willingness to hear from God. This is only the beginning

    Like

    1. robbijames says:

      James, I appreciate this so much. I’ve struggled with writing this year due to some serious grieving and this is encouraging. Look for more soon!

      Like

  5. Missions6 says:

    Thankful to find your blog, Robbi, as I was searching for “cloak of zeal”. keep on writing!

    Like

  6. Martin S says:

    Really Ministered to me this early morning, found on Google search while researching; “Cloak” in Isaiah 5916-19. Paul told Timothy to, “Bring the Cloak…and Books, Especially the Parchments.” in 2Timothy 4:13. You can’t have Cloak/ZEAL without the Books/ WORD of GOD!
    Thank you for your writings..

    Like

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