I'm reading a book now by Earl Paulk called "Ultimate Kingdom, Lessons for today's Christian from the Book of Revelation". You can find the book in Amazon.com by clicking below:
What is so interesting in this book is that Earl Paulk himself had a vision from God where he saw the throne of God and the twenty-four elders. When he woke up, he heard a voice from God say, "Now I will give you understanding of John's revelation".
When the spirit of God took him to the throne of God, he had asked God what the twenty-four elders represent and God had told him that the 24 elders represent the church. Twelve of the elders represent the twelve tribes of Israel in the Old Testament and twelve represent the apostles of the New Testamanent Church. The combination of the Old and New Testaments, therefore, represent the total Church.
The numbers used in John's Revelation do not actually specify amounts but represent concepts. I'm going to quote a paragraph from his book.
"For example, as a number, twenty-four is unimportant. However, the concept of twenty-four, representing the Church of the Living God, is vital to God's plan. Form the concept of twenty-four, we, the church, encircle God's throne and are made to be rulers with Him. That concept is not a future event; we are rulers, seated with God in heavenly places right now [Ephesians 2:6]. Understanding the Revealtion with this vision, I realized that the throne of God occupies the center of the whole universe."
Earl says that the book of revelation is not strictly a book of prophecy and relates to things that we are facing now. For example, Babylon is not a literal city or place but represent the kingdoms of this world (worldly forces or systems which are at work in our lives).
Many people use the book of Revelation in a literal way. The context of the book was that John was given the revelation in times of tremendous persecution of Christians because of their beliefs. The emperor at the time of John's Revelation was Titus Flavius Domiatianus and he was a persecutor of the Church. Anyone profesing the Christian faith was either exiled to a work camp or martyred. John's message was written to the seven churches and was intended to be understood only by its intended recipients to prevent further persecution by Domitianus or the Roman Empire. That is why words like "beast" (referring to earthly authority), "rainbow" (representing God's covenant with His people) were used.
There's so much "revelation" in his book about how this book relates to us today that you should get it. I'm not saying that I agree with everything in his book but his book offers a fresh perspective. This book is currently out of print and Amazon only has one used copy. I suggest you get the book.