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 is not only something we do out of necessity, but it is also a way to show our identity and purpose.  The colors, fabrics, and style say everything about who we are and what we intend to do. As people today confront injustice, they often adopt protest symbols and dress to challenge oppressive systems and situations.

 In Isaiah’s powerful imagery, God is fully clothed as a warrior coming against injustice with a suit of armor to protect his people and purposes. God “puts on” righteousness as a breastplate, along with the helmet of salvation, the garments of judgment, and with the cloak of zeal thrown across his shoulders.  Our hope is in a God who “looked, ” who sees and cares about injustice and evil that come against the Creator God’s purposes for good.

The cloak of zeal, thrown over the armor and tunic, displays God’s passionate authority which moves with redemptive purpose for his people.  As Paul in his letter to the Ephesians calls on believers in Christ to “put on” the armor of God to prepare for spiritual battle, we need to be wrapped with the cloak of zeal, energized to bring justice and truth to all people. The One who has called us with authority, sends us out with promised presence: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

IMAGINE yourself on a cold and rainy day, throwing on a comfortable hoodie, or wrapping up in a warm blanket.  Sit with the image of being wrapped up, protected against the elements.  Now visualize the Lord God throwing a mantel of “zeal” around your shoulders, calling you to follow with passion as you start your day or your project.  Close your eyes and see yourself getting dressed for your calling as a disciple and witness. Do you put on the armor, the support and protection over your heart, your emotions and responses?  Or do you grab the helmet, to put on wisdom for good decision making?  Or do you most need the cloak of zeal to energize your love and service in an unjust world?

The Cloak and Calling. Elijah is a radical prophet of God confronting injustice and idolatry. His story is found in the books of the Kings in the Old Testament. Elijah wore a mantle or cloak, some scholars say was made of animal hair representing his calling as a prophet of God. (2 Kings 1:8; 2:8,13-14; 1 Kings 19:9-13) One use of his cloak as a symbol of authority and zeal occurs near the end of his ministry when he identifies Elisha as his successor by throwing his cloak around him as a mantle of calling:

 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 now on his shoulders, Elisha follows Elijah, zealous to take up his new mission. So much so that Elisha not only says goodbye to his family and friends, but to his former way of life by sacrificing the tools of his trade, the oxen and plow. 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.

REFLECT. 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 Timothy 1:6)  Are you in a community, small group or mentoring relationship where spiritual leaders can pass on the cloak of zeal to help you discern how to use your gifting and skills with calling and purpose?

READ.  In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul uses the imagery from Isaiah in his description of the armor of God.  Read Ephesians 6:10-18 and compare it with Isaiah 59:15-17. Notice that Paul does not mention the cloak of zeal, which seems odd, since in Paul’s time, the red cloak or cape worn by Roman soldiers was a symbol of power and authority. Yet, Paul urges us to “put 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)  

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.

PRACTICE. Pray through Isaiah 59:15-17 and 1 Kings 19: 19-21. What word or phrase stands out to you? Are you just going through the motions in your spiritual life, or in a rut of routine in your relationships?  Spend some time praying for zeal and just listen.  Then look for where you might get involved in your community, standing against injustice or serving those who suffer the results of evil.

Epaphras, Paul’s friend and a servant of Christ, (Col 4:12-13), is described as “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.”  Consider “putting on the cloak of zeal” in your prayer life this week.  Who comes to mind that you could more earnestly pray for this week?

Paul also writes to his successor Timothy: “Do your best to come to me soon…when you come, bring the cloak that I left…also the books, and above all the parchments.” The cloak, most likely a heavy, blanket-like garment like a poncho, and the books and parchments, small expensive leaves of valuable documents and Scriptures. If you found yourself alone and without any comforts, what would you ask a friend to bring? Consider spending a day wrapped up with just these important things: a passion for the Lord and the Word of God.

    Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

    7 Comments Add yours

    1. brucekmac6 says:

      Thanks Robbi! You communicate so well!


    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! 😊🌻💚


    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.


    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


      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!


    5. Missions6 says:

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


    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..


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