27:15 Moses [now 120 years old (Deut. 31:2; 34:7); did not grumble because he would not be permitted to enter the promised land; more concerned for the people than for himself; leaders must see to it that the next generation is equipped to carry on God’s work (2 Tim. 2:2)] said to the LORD,
27:16 “May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all mankind [expression emphasized the sovereignty of God over all people], appoint [Moses left the appointment of a successor to God, who alone knew the inner qualities demanded for the task of leading His people into the promised land; the choice to select or elect a leader was not left to the people] a man [a leader] over [Moses’ main concern was that God provide a spiritual leader] this community [the people of Israel]
27:17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in [expressions refer to presiding over/directing activities of the people], so the LORD’S people will not be like sheep without a shepherd [thus wander aimlessly].”
27:18 So the LORD said to Moses, “Take [imperative] Joshua [one of the faithful spies] son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit [divine endowment for leadership], and lay your hand on him [a visual representation of the transfer of leadership/power from Moses to Joshua].
Read Deuteronomy 31:7-8 Joshua was an excellent successor to Moses for several reasons.
First, Joshua was a man who was experienced in battle (Exodus 17:8-16).
Second, Joshua was a man trained under Moses.
Third, Joshua was a man with the ability to correctly judge a situation (Numbers 14:6-9).
Fourth, Joshua knew how to stand firm in the midst of a difficult situation and intense opposition (Numbers 14:10).
Moses publicly commissioned Joshua to succeed him (31:7-8). Thomas Carlyle said, “Show me the man you honor and I will know what kind of man you are, for it shows me what your ideal of manhood is and what kind of man you long to be.” Joshua was a man of integrity. He lived a credible life before the Israelites. He was qualified to lead others. Albert Schweitzer said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing.” Moses wanted for the Israelites to know that he had confidence in Joshua.
Notice the following things concerning the public commissioning of Joshua.
First, Moses assured the people that Joshua was God’s choice to be their next leader: “Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the Lord has spoken” (31:3).
Second, Moses assured Joshua that God would guide him: “And the Lord is the One who goes ahead of you” (31:8a).
Third, Moses assured Joshua that God would empower him and be present with him: “He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed” (31:8b).
27:19 Have him stand before Eleazar [Aaron’s son and successor (Num. 20:22-29)] the priest and the entire assembly and commission [command] him in their presence [read Deut. 31:7-8].
27:20 Give him some [indicates the transfer of leadership was to be done on a gradual basis while Moses was still alive; Joshua was a servant before he was a leader; “He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” (Aristotle)] of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him.