OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
Peter, I agree with a lot of this. I think there is still a question, however, over whether the apocalyptic language of Revelation intrinsically invites re-application beyond the context of the conflict between Christ and Caesar. The fact that from our much later perspective we are capable of reading the imagery typologically (with reference to subsequent conflicts) does not necessarily mean that the author of Revelation expected his words to be re-interpreted in this way.
It also seems to me that the thousand year period, culminating in final justice and the renewal of creation, effectively precludes a repetition of the crisis. Satan is constrained and no longer able to challenge the lordship of Christ. This is potentially a really important point: to suggest that the typology of the beast might be repeated would mean that the sovereignty of Christ described in Revelation 19 is each time brought into question. The church may face similar persecutions at a later stage, but the reign of God does not need to be re-established each time.
Wouldn’t it be better to say, then, that John wrote about the situation of the church in the early centuries, but that we may borrow his imagery - and in a sense deliberately misuse it - to give expression to the hope of the church facing persecution and oppression in later periods? In this way we don’t attempt to make Revelation speak authoritatively about situations that lie beyond its prophetic horizon. Rather as a Spirit-filled people we exercise our own prophetic authority to affirm hope through the language of scripture - just as the Bible itself reuses the exodus motif to describe subsequent liberations.