(Sorry it took me some time to post again, things got crazy busy)
Week two of my Book of Revelation class we talked about how the first word of the book tells us John has something he wants to tell us: "revelation", which means, if it's being revealed, it's not hidden. The difference is between what must soon take place, not how soon the world will end. The professor said 1:3, "Blessed is the one who reads it" tells us the goal of Revelation. If you aren't blessed after reading it, try again.
Prophecy in popular culture has come to mean 'history written in advance', but the prophets in the Bible are more concerned with bringing God's word to people in the present.
Revelation follows the typical form of a letter (another clue that it's meant to communicate something!). The prof told us John takes the rules of Greek and bends them because God does not bend to Greek grammar (spec. 1:4); there's a counter cultural hint to the language that signifies the counter cultural message (basically, he uses the nominative case in a reference to God where grammar dictates differently). John also uses much Old Testament imagery, but never quotes word for word. Revelation was written from John's exile on the island of Patmos (in the Mediterranean), which had a fishing/sea village and nice harbor. Christianity fit under the Roman classification of 'superstition', and those convicted where usually just exiled, taken out of mainstream culture.
From the beginning Revelation was meant to be a meaningful word, so how can it continue to be a meaningful word?
Rev. 1:12-13: Jesus is in the middle of the lampstands- Chrsit is already present among the churches. John addresses the 7 churches in Asia. Each of these churches are in different locations with different social conditions and problems. Smyrna and Philadelphia were struggling under persecution, Ephesus, Pergamum, and Thyatira were struggling with questions of assimilation, and Sardis and Laodicea had become complacent. Revelation was written to all these different groups, which means Revelation was written for all types of people (everyone).
Many of our Christian hymns and liturgical pieces come from Revelation (more than most people realize). Revelation brings you into this circle of people praising god, casting their crowns, and when it does this, it has the effect for which it was written.