Some people today come to Revelation with the recipe to interpret everything literally if possible. That recipe misunderstands what kind of book Revelation is. Of course John literally saw what he says he saw. But what he saw was a vision. lt was filled with symbols, like the Beast of 13:1-8 and the seven blazing lamps in 4:5. It was never intended to be a direct, non-symbolical description of the future. People living in John’s own time understood this matter instinctively because they recognized that John was writing in an apocalyptic manner, a manner already as familiar to them as a political cartoon is to us today.
From the book "The Returning King"