There is a nature to prophecy that is inherently conditional. What I mean is there is little point to prophecy if there are not some choices about it. God’s words to his people are often conditional “If you do this, I will do that.” Here is the thing that we have to consider that Revelation might also be a big ‘If…then’. The book starts by exhorting many churches to hold firm and many to repent. If they heed this warning and repent does things change for them and if they don’t does it change things for them. The answer has to be yes on both counts or the prophecy is meaningless. It has no function other than a sort of crystal ball viewing where we are fated to a certain end. The thing is that there are two possibilities I see for he overall predictive element of Revelation.
One, the predictions were about the world they knew and so they might have taken place in that some disasters that fit some of the prophetic elements. By limiting the scope of world to the Roman world view of the Mediterranean. If this picture of politics and religion and geography changes the prophecies would also have to change in their effect. Which brings up the simple fact that God can choose in his infinite creativity the way prophecies are fulfilled. He is not stuck with one and only one way to do it. The specifics might be lost to us as well simply by the passage of time.
The second possibility is that if this a world-wide catastrophic events it is subject to the prophetic ‘in case of emergency break glass” principle. What I mean is that some prophecy is given as a warning. It is God saying if things get really bad I will break the glass and enact this effect. The large-scale slaughter and destruction of the Book of Revelation regardless of whether this affects the Roman world or ours indicates to me this is a propositional prophecy that involves the condition of people being completely unrepentant. Throughout the book there are many references to people not repenting despite the destruction and death. The constant question would be if at any point people repented would the slaughter and destruction stop? The fact is that this indicates that there is a possibility that this really is something in a glass box metaphorically speaking and God holds the hammer. It does not have to take place at all. The only time it might be used is if Good sees the world once again get to the point of thinking evil all the time like in the days of Noah.
It is for this reason I think all timeline theology will fail. Every attempt to put the events of revelation on a timeline, is basically saying that you believe that god has broken the glass case. That is a bold claim to make from anyone’s perspective that does not have divine perspective. It is also possible that the conditions have so changed since the first century that the prophecy is invalid as far as being fulfilled, yet at the same time God has been creative before and the symbolism of Revelation does open things up and make things far more general so that creativity could easily be applied.
Honestly, I think the best thing we can do with the book is draw out what we can where things are clear and apply them and where things are not so clear we should either be silent or be very careful in our language about what these things could mean.