Why would Peter tell his readers this? If he told an American Christian this today, either one of two likely scenarios would happen; either he would be laughed out of town ( on a rail ) or the listener ( reader ) would take note of his warning & then do one of two things! He would begin to prepare himself for the coming of Christ & the utter destruction of the world ( wait.... ), or he would tell himself 'eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die'! But Peter did not write these words to American Christians living in the 21st century; he wrote them to Hebrews living in the 1st century A.D.! When we hear someone talk about 'the end' of something, we usually think 'cessation'; the beginning of something 'new' maybe, but the cessation of what is 'old'. To a good Hebrew though, one well-acquainted with the Story, 'the end' would have more of a connotation of the goal or end result!
In His model for prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to pray that His Father's will would be done &
that His Kingdom would come 'on earth as it is in heaven'; this was the end result that Jesus taught His followers to seek! He did not teach us, nor did the apostles later, to long for the cessation of life as we know it, but instead, He taught those first century disciples, as did the apostles as well, to expect to witness the end result, or goal of the ages, the Eschaton, the Marriage of Heaven & Earth!
Jesus was in fact, the End of which He spoke! Yes, the cessation of the ministry of death, or Israel under that first ( covenant ) was drawing near. The time of their judgment was 'at the door' ( James 5:9 ), but more importantly, the promise of God Himself was about to be fulfilled, 'And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.' ( Genesis 3:15 )! As the Promised Seed, Jesus was about to crush the head of 'the serpent' ( Romans 16:20 ( John 19:30 ) & usher in 'the age to come' of which the prophets had spoken, the Kingdom of which Daniel had prophesied as lasting forever ( Daniel 2 )!
The Goal of the Eschaton, as we have noted, was that God's will would ( once again ) be done 'on earth as it is in heaven' & that the Everlasting Kingdom of which Daniel had prophesied would finally come to bear! This 'end' was reached in the 1st century, beginning with the ministry of Jesus & the Apostles, finding it's culmination in the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem & the Jewish Temple in 70A.D. & is now being fulfilled ( filled up ) through The Ministry of Life, in & through His People, the Anointed Ones, the Church! As the True Israel of God, we are to bring the Light of this Good News to the darkest corners, to expand the Gospel of the Kingdom to the farthest reaches & to be what the original Adam & Israel were supposed to be, Heavenly Ministers of Grace & Truth!
Could the end be near in our day; could this globe which we all inhabit come to a sudden halt & be burnt to a crisp by an angry sun? Sure, it could happen! Things could heat up and transpire just the way some scientists & fear-mongers are prophesying, but we know that this is not the 'end' prophesied in Scripture! That 'End' ( goal ) was realized in the 1st century ( though most have yet to realize this glorious fact ) & consummated the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, with the end result that the Holy Spirit has taken up permanent Residence within His People ( John 14:23 )!
Could it be that Jesus was speaking of the Comforter ( John 8 & 14 ) when He spoke these words to His disciples? Was He simply comforting them with the knowledge that He would not leave them or forsake them, even though the world seemed to come crashing down around them? 'The end of all things' ( that they had previously known ) was most assuredly upon them & the world in which they had grown up was about to come crashing down around them, but they 'had light in their dwellings'!
With the Knowledge that the End of the Eschaton not only came, but stayed, 'let us eat drink and be merry', for we never die, having entered our Eternal Rest! They reached the End ( Goal ) of the Age in the 1st century & we now live in that Completion, as the result of that Divine Marriage!
Charles Haddn Sgank