Moses has finally come to the end of his road, and he can only see the promised land from the other side because he struck the rock when he disobeyed God at the waters of Meribah. He goes up on a mountain to look at what he will never experience, and it must have been a bittersweet experience. He was now 120 years old. He spent 40 years as a shepherd, and 40 years wandering around the wilderness trying to lead a difficult people. God affirms him over and over again, and reveals himself to him in ways nobody else experienced; he saw God, talked to him. Then in one display of anger, an obvious problem for Moses we see from way back in Egypt, he disqualifies himself from going into the land flowing with milk and honey God promised.
This is something of a type of our own experience in that we will all die on this side of the river, we in this body of sin cannot make it into heaven, God’s land of promise for us. But the land exists! And we will make it to the other side in a new, resurrected body, as children of the promise, the covenant God made with Abraham, indeed God made with himself in Triune faithfulness.
Before Moses dies he asks the Lord for someone to lead the people, and God picks Joshua. In a public ceremony, Moses conveys some of his authority him so the people will follow and do as he commands. And the high priest lays his hands on him and commissions him. Ceremony is important, it conveys truth people would have a harder time accepting if it was only conveyed in words. People also need leaders, and now Joshua will take over for Moses in the next part of their journey, and ours in the history of redemption.