Armor of God Bible Study: The Cloak of Zeal

Forestier, CC Image courtesy of Mike Bishop on Flickr.

The cloak of Zeal isn’t mentioned in Ephesians 6, so why would we include it in a Bible study about the Armor of God?  It is mentioned in Isaiah, and it can be just as important a part of the armor as any other piece.  A cloak is not just a fashion piece that might keep you covered.  It’s not just a costume to make you look more mysterious.  It was actually a useful part of a Roman soldier’s attire that served a variety of different purposes, as the cloak of zeal does when added to the Armor of God.

Why the Cloak Matters
A Roman soldier could find a number of uses for his cloak.  Today we think of cloaks as something decorative, like what a King might wear to his coronation, or mysterious, like a stranger wearing a big, black cloak that appears in a rainstorm.  However, a cloak was more than a costume.  First, it protected the soldier from the elements.  The cloaks soldiers wore weren’t just made of random fabric.  They were made from insulated wool.  The fabric was infused with natural oil so it would repel water.  In some areas it was even hooded to provide more shelter from rain, wind, or cold weather. By keeping the soldiers warm and dry, they remained both physically and mentally healthier than if they were exposed to bad weather.

Having a Zeal for God
Zeal occurs when we have a passion or strong interest in something.  We can have a zeal for reading.  A zeal for playing sports.  A zeal for painting.

  Everyone has that thing they can’t wait to do or get involved in.  We forget sometimes that we also need a zeal for God, because otherwise we can easily lose interest.

When we lose our zeal for God, we start to head down a path where we lose interest and our relationship with God starts to fade.  We find ourselves terribly bored in church.

  We find that reading our Bible isn’t all that important to us anymore.  We think other things in our lives are far more important than spending time in prayer or trying to talk to God.  We begin to doubt our faith, and in the extreme, we walk away from God.  

A zeal for God comes from the relationship we have with Him, but like any relationship, it takes work.  We need to read the Bible.  We need to pray.  We need to spend time in prayer with Him to retain that zeal.

Let’s Cloak Ourselves in Zeal
How is it that something like a cloak which covers us up is associated with something so positive as zeal?  When we aren’t protected from the cold side of things away from God, we lose our motivation to live in a way that pleases Him.  A cloak keeps a soldier dry and warm so that he can be his best.  When we lose our cloak of zeal, we aren’t at our best.  When it frays and we feel less desire to maintain and build our relationship with God, we aren’t our best Christian selves.  We find that we’re just going through the motions of our faith, or even doing less and less to live a Christian life.

When we wrap ourselves up in passion and interest, our faith doesn’t seem like work. We feel warm and protected in God’s love.

  We feel like we can do anything with God on our side.  We feel joy at spending time with Him.  When we put on the cloak of zeal, we feel energized and ready to take on anything, including live a life for Him.