All the reformers knew the book of Revelation was given for those who lived AFTER the Apostle John. Note Revelation 1:1. How do we know? because God has not left his people “in the dark” for nearly 2,000 years!! Also Chapters 2 & 3 are about the congregations in Asia Minor – Ephesus, Smerdis etc. And this was fulfilled up to the 5th centuries… then from ch 6 begins the prophecies of the stages of the fall of the Roman Empire..
As a message of hope, there are chapters intersecting the revealed prophecies to give a vision of hope to the believers, eg ch 4, 5, and then ch 7.
Note ch 9 is about the rise of Mohammed (the star falling… then the invasions of the Muslims through the Middle East right across Africa are described as “locust invasions”… because locusts come from this area – still today. The word for locust in Italian is “little horse” because the head looks like a horses’ head. The Muslims were highly successful because of their amazing cavalry.) There were 2 main invasions… and the dates work out to the Muslim Empire… Caliphs etc.. Then the 6th seal in Rev 9… 4 invasions from across the Euphrates describes the 4 main invasions of the hordes from the east, Seljuks, Ottomans, Turks etc… which formed the great and powerful Turkish Empire… and which invaded right up into Europe (challenging Vienna in 1685 or thereabouts)…. and it took Constantinople in 1453… which was the end of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman)
Note Rev 16:12, this talks of the drying up of the river Euphrates – which was the END of the Turkish Empire. This was fulfilled in WW1… and enabled the preparation for the coming of the “kings of the east” – Christ… One of the great signs of preparation is the return of the Jews to the land (Ezek 37). The earlier part of Rev 16 refers to the judgments of the Napoleonic wars which overturned much of European rule, and the power of the Papacy (it lost its political backers as a result and Italy was unified in 1866). In fact Napoleon even took the Pope prisoner. All the symbols depict events.. eg Rev 16:3 the naval wars… v2 French Revolution, which took away the power of the Catholic Church in France (the mark of the beast is the “cross” cp Rev 13:16), Rev 16:4 the wars on the area of northern Italy, which was the sources of the major rivers… then v8 the end of the Holy Roman Empire, and v10 the “seat of the beast”.. ie where the Pope is – Napoleon even took the Pope prisoner!!!
Rev 16:8 In Biblical terms, the sun rep the political headship (cp Joseph’s dream, Jacob interpreted this as him being the father, Rachel the mother, the brothers as stars – Gen 37). And the great Battle of Austerlitz which marked the end of the Holy Roman Empire (fought near Vienna), was such a dramatic battle, that the men called it thereafter “The sun at Austerlitz”…. it was the way the sun burst above the clouds and glistened on the bayonets as the cavalry charge emerged from the mists below up the mountains…
The symbol of a river flooding is a known Bible symbol for invasion – see Isaiah 8.
The trouble is we have to get to know the Bible really well in order to interpret it.
Remember Revelation is the prophecy given by Jesus Christ. He said that to understand prophecy we have to know Daniel (Matt 24:15); we have made comparative charts of Daniel 7 with Revelation 13 etc….
“If a man love me he will KEEP my words….” Jn 14:23 So we have to get familiar with the Bible. Jesus taught out of the OT… Luke 24:44-46.
May the Lord guide you in the reading of His Word.