I've always had a problem with the kind of thinking Mick is proposing. It doesn't seem to help in either of two ways:
1. If we see the Revelation as apocalyptic (which, by the way, isn't as obvious as people make it out to be), then we are obligated to note that one of the characteristics of apocalyptic writing is that it refers to "the end times." Always. It's always about some great final tribulation in which God intervenes to save His people and set up a new order. But the line of thinking proposed by Mick denies that. It would have the Revelation keep the form of apocalypse while denying its basic message. That would be as silly as me sitting down to write a technical manual using the form of a love poem.
2. If we note that Revelation is not an apocalypse (as is likely), but rather a prophecy (as John himself tells us it is)--and more technically, an epistolary prophecy--then the call for an apocalyptic hermeneutic is unnecessary. Yes, there is a lot of figurative language, but there is in Isaiah and Ezekiel, too. They certainly aren't apocalyptic. They're just . . . Jewish prophecy! Moreover, debates aside about multiple fulfillment, prophecies aren't about a general way in which God works (although we can sometimes derive such principles). They are promises about what God will do at a specific time. So to suggest that Revelation is a general "prophecy" about what God would do under the reign of various emperors makes the same type of mistake I suggested above, only here, we've employed the form of prophecy while gutting of it of its essential message.
In any case, I'm not saying that the Revelation doesn't give the Christian a reason for faith and to persevere in the case of extreme persecution. It does, but that is a function of the nature of its fulfillment, not its message itself. In other words, we can have the faith to persevere through tribulation because we see that, in the end, when persecution will be at its WORST, when all will seem lost, God will still win. So if God wins in the worst case, a fortiori
, He'll win in mine, and thus I can trust him. But if you take away that basic, final, and really prophesied fulfillment, you've gutted (again) the very nature of the book and therefore its power to trust God in such tribulation.
Just my $.02.
Now off to church, where we just so happen to be studying the Revelation. I think we start chapter 5 today.