Should Revelation be taken literally? And if a first century audience was supposed to understand Revelation, shouldn’t we limit our interpretations to events and literature of that day?
B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, May 28, 2020
First, no one takes the entire book of Revelation in an absolute/wooden literal sense (e.g., “beasts” has previously been interpreted in Scripture as world empires [e.g., Daniel 7:23], so the beast in Revelation is without doubt talking of an empire). So the issue is not about Revelation being literal but how much should be seen as literal and how much is imagery and metaphorical. We have previously seen that Scripture should be taken plainly/straightforward so this makes sense–taking Revelation in the sense it is written--which is prophetic writing.
Other writings by John that are generally literal historical narrative have metaphorical meanings sprinkled within (John 2:19-20; 3:3-10; 8:31-36; 18:33-37; adults called “little children” in 1 John, among others). So we should expect metaphorical allusions by John in Revelation. These need to be recognized by other passages of Scripture (Scripture interprets Scripture).
Regarding the second question, yes, this makes the most sense for the bulk of the events. Of course, there are events that are to take place at the end and all agree on those (e.g., the curse is removed in Revelation 22:3 [Genesis 3:17, Roman 8:20-22]; no more crying, Revelation 21:4, et cetera).
But it would be unwise to turn on modern news sources and use that information to interpret themes contained in the book of Revelation. If one does look to references outside of Scripture, then it should be limited as much as possible to 1st century writings.
Re-read Revelation 1-4:1