Armor Series, Part Six: The Cloak of Zeal
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle, you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17, NLT)
Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘Cortney, what the heck? Paul never mentions a “cloak of zeal.” Stop making this stuff up.’
To which I say: Ah, I see... you thought we were gonna finally get into the sword, but I gotta keep you on your toes.
Okay, yes. There is no mention of the cloak of zeal in Ephesians, but it is mentioned much earlier in the Bible. Allow us to take a quick, Old Testament pit-stop in Isaiah.
“He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments
of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.” (Isaiah 59:17, ESV)
The first part of the verse piques my interest, because of the phrases “righteousness as a breastplate” and “helmet of salvation,” all sound very familiar, don’t they? But then a whole new piece of the armor is presented: the cloak of zeal. This was new to me. In all my years of Sunday school lessons and youth group sermons about the armor, a cloak was never mentioned, which begs a handful of questions: Is the cloak optional? Do most of us forget to don it? Is it really a necessary piece for us to fight the spiritual battles ahead of us?
Zeal, for those who are still scratching their heads, is another word for passion. In my opinion, this piece is what separates the men from the boys. Putting our passion behind our every endeavor for God’s kingdom sets us apart from the rest of the army that God is putting together in the coming days. Understanding our passion and using it as an asset to the fight can only help. Wearing it correctly makes you a warrior for Jesus that cannot be stopped. Much like the rest of our armor, the purpose of the cloak is multifaceted.
The cloak of zeal gives us added advantage in the heat of battle.
First, let’s explore what the cloak did for a Roman soldier. According to what I’ve studied, a Roman soldier used his cloak to protect himself from the elements. If a soldier left home without his cloak, he would be wet from rain, cold from sleet, vulnerable to sunburn, and any other thing Mother Nature could throw at him.
Not only that, but the cloak served as makeshift bedding for soldiers that were on the road. It could be used as a blanket or balled up under his head as a pillow. Either way, if he was sleeping on the ground, even a cloak could make his rest much more comfortable.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” (Psalm 23, KJV)
We know the Lord provides our every need. If he remembers the sparrow, then he will surely remember us. Just the same, God will never leave us to fend for ourselves. And just think: If a soldier were cold, wet, and tired, he would be less battle-ready than if he were comfortable and well-rested, right? God serves as the provider and the facilitator that covers our need so that our passion for Christ can be on-point and ready in the moments of spiritual battle when we need it the most. We’re actually better warriors if we are clothed in our passion for the Lord.
2. The cloak of zeal allows us to connect with those who need not be afraid of us.
If a marine came walking up to you in full uniform and gun in hand, you would be intimidated, maybe even afraid, of him right? For a Roman soldier who had to be in uniform, the cloak helped to conceal his weapon and blend into the crowd as he went about his business. He only needed his sword when he was faced with an adversary. When he was walking through the streets of a city, or speaking with an unassuming civilian, he didn’t need the intimidation factor of his weapon.
Just the same, if we came running up to souls we were trying to win to the Kingdom with swords drawn and guns blazing, we might intimidate that person from the call of Christ. We all know that beating someone over the head with your Bible is not the best evangelizing tactic. Am I saying to be timid in sharing the gospel with others? Absolutely not, but I’m saying that your passion for your relationship with Christ helps you to relate to others that are hungry for the love you know.
Take a page from Jesus’ book. He had all the power of heaven behind Him, yet always responded to His people in gentleness and love. He had plenty of opportunities to condemn or condescend, but He never took those shots. For the woman at the well, He revealed a part of Himself in a precious moment of transparency not afforded to many (John 4). For the woman who as about to be stoned for adultery, Jesus chased away her accusers and pardoned her to a different life (John 8). For Peter, who denied Him, Jesus forgave, elevated, and blessed him (John 21).
So, just because you have a weapon, doesn’t mean you have to wield it with everyone you come in contact with. In fact, if your goal is to share Jesus with them, you’re better off following Jesus’ lead and allowing your zeal to do the talking.
3. The cloak of zeal reminds us to constantly clothe ourselves in passion for Jesus.
The funny thing about zeal is that you can have it for anything. While this is true, what it all comes down to is this: you either have zeal for Jesus or zeal for the world. We have to constantly check our hearts to make sure our zeal is firmly found in Jesus, otherwise, we may find ourselves walking a difficult line.
So here’s your challenge: Evaluate who your zeal is for today. Is your passion found in this world, or what lies beyond your physical sight? Does your spiritual rest and contentment come out of that zeal? Does it speak to Jesus’ goodness, kindness, and greatness when you share Him with others?
Don’t spend another day without donning your cloak, dear friend. It will only make you a better warrior.
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