God says to us, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” (1Pe 4:7) If God was exhorting saints to prepare for the end of the world two millennia ago, then we are at a loss; the world didn’t end then and it hasn’t since. Immediate context provides precious little help in interpreting, so we turn to the broader context of Scripture for insight.
The fact that God pleads with us to not expect Messiah’s return before the time (2Th 2:1-2), suggests God isn’t warning us that the end of the world is upon us; there must first come a falling away, which we still have not seen. (2Th 2:3)
The key here appears to lie in the word end, which may convey the idea of a goal, purpose or final result. (Ja 5:11) If we understand it this way, God is telling us that the goal or purpose of all things, the reason everything happens, is at hand, or obvious, or readily perceived. This divine purpose is repeated in many places, as in the immediate context, “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1Pe 4:11)
God is evidently telling us that we should be sober, prayerful, thoughtful, deliberate in our actions because He intends to glorify His Son Jesus Christ in and through everything. Though sin should grieve us (Php 3:18-19), we need not fret and worry and stew over rebellion, blindness and brokenness all around us, or try in any way to control any of it; God will glorify Himself in and through it all. (Ro 11:36)
Rather than letting corruption steal our joy, we should be thankful in and for all things (Ep 5:20), knowing that our God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Ro 8:28), and allows all for a perfect purpose: to glorify Himself. (Ps 46:10)