Moses receives an immediate response to his request. The answer shows that what he has asked is God’s thoughts. Joshua will be the successor of Moses. Moses must lay his hand on him in the presence of Eleazar and all the people. Everyone must witness that Joshua will have the same position as Moses and, as a result, the same authority.
During the thirty-eight years of the wilderness journey we hear nothing of Joshua. But God knows him and has shaped him. He knows what spirit is present in him: in Joshua the Spirit of God is present. Moses has led the people through the wilderness. Joshua will bring the people into the land. Moses is a picture of the Lord Jesus as the One Who shows His people, the church, the way through the wilderness. Joshua is a picture of the Lord Jesus Who introduces His heavenly people in the Spirit into the heavenly blessings.
Moses and Joshua form a unity. That makes the laying on of hands clear. In them we see the Lord Jesus as “the author [Moses] and perfecter [Joshua] of faith” (Heb 12:22fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.). Moses has redeemed God’s people from Egypt. The Lord Jesus redeemed His people from the power of sin. By His death, resurrection, and ascension He made way for the Spirit (Jn 16:77But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.).
Joshua brings the people into the land. The Lord Jesus does this now through His Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit He makes the church familiar with everything of Himself and the blessings of the heavenly places: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose [it] to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose [it] to you” (Jn 16:13-1513But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.14He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose [it] to you.15All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose [it] to you.).
Aaron is succeeded by Eleazar. They too are both a picture of the Lord Jesus. Aaron is the picture of the Lord Jesus as the One Who carries His people through the wilderness on His shoulders (a picture of strength) and on His chest (a picture of love). Eleazar presents the Lord Jesus as the High Priest who represents His people in heaven.
Moses and Aaron are connected to each other for the liberation from Egypt. Joshua and Eleazar are connected for the entry into the land. Joshua stands before Eleazar, as if he is subordinate to him. It expresses that leadership is always subject to priesthood. A person can never be a good leader if he is not a good priest.
The fact that Joshua stands before Eleazar also expresses the fact that taking possession of the land under the guidance of Joshua depends on the high priest. We see in it the picture that everything we can enjoy of the heavenly blessings through the Spirit is based on the intercession of the Lord Jesus as High Priest. Joshua is dependent on the priesthood for his advancement. Thus the presence and working of the Holy Spirit depends on the presence of Christ in the holy place.
Through Eleazar the will of God can be known. The urim is with him, which means ‘lights’. Divine light about the manner of taking possession of the land is obtained from the Lord Jesus as the High Priest. What He makes clear can then be done in the power of the Spirit.