@tttallison I am glad that you feel you are making progress in your understanding of Revelation. I expect to be on that journey for the whole of my life.
Important in understanding my interpretation is that I believe that Revelation tells the same story twice in chapters 6-11 and 12-19, so that 20 is not sequential with the prior chapters. This approach has made the most sense to me of the ones that I have read.
Below is my understanding of the structure of Revelation.
Revelation appears to have two book ends – chapters 1-3 and 20-22. Chapters 1-3 are prophetic messages to actual churches in the first century warning them of the judgment of God upon them and chapters 20-22 are a retelling of Christ’s victory and a metaphorical depiction of the Church that looks forward to a new heavens and new earth.
Chapters 6-11 are a description of the time between Jesus’ death and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Chapters 12-19 are a retelling of the same period of time, but zoomed in on the Jewish war. That these two sections are a retelling of the same story is evident from the fact that both end with a very similar benediction, they both contain the 144,000 and they both contain the 42 months / 1,260 days from Daniel chapters 7/12. While Daniel’s 70 weeks ended when the Gospel was opened to the Gentiles, the prophecies concerning the end of the Jewish covenant were not fulfilled until the Jewish war and destruction of the temple, which Jesus predicted.
Here is my understanding of chapters 20-22:
Chapter 20: Retelling of Christ’s victory on the cross and then continue forward from chapters 11/19, which both conclude the destruction of Jerusalem and ushering in of the Church as God’s temple / bride. John sees Satan bound up so that he could not deceive the nations, a symbolic representation of the power of Christ’s sacrifice over Satan’s deception. The “first resurrection” refers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ “the firstfruits”. [1 Corinthians 15.20] Hence, the righteous dead (Rev. 14.13: “blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on”) are described as “sharing” in Christ’s resurrection and rule, in perfect correspondence to Paul’s statements in his letters. [1 Corinthians 15.22; Ephesians 2.6; Colossians 2.12-13] The “thousand years” are symbolic of the era of the Church, and the beginning of the “thousand years” corresponds to the Kingdom of God being established upon the world [Luke 21.31-32; Revelation 11.15], marked by the destruction of apostate Israel. [Matthew 21.33-46] The number 1000 is a symbolic numeral for “completion”. Thus, when the “thousand years” come to their end, the plan of God will be brought to completion. Satan will be released from his binding, bringing about a great deception. The enemies of the world (symbolized as “Gog and Magog”) will attempt to destroy the Church (symbolized as “God’s holy city”), but they will be prevented by the Second Coming of Christ. Satan will be cast into the lake of fire. Christ will sit upon his throne, and he will bring about the resurrection of the dead. All of mankind (and angels) will be judged. John sees the wicked cast into the lake of fire. Finally, John sees Death itself destroyed by Christ. After the resurrection, the final judgment, and the defeat of Death, Christ delivers the Kingdom of God up to the Father in order for it to be consummated. [1 Corinthians 15.23-28,54-55]
In support of the binding of Satan occurring through Jesus’ ministry, consider John 12:31 – “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.”
Chapter 21: John sees the New Jerusalem, a symbolic representation of God’s perfect Church with imagery drawn from Ezekiel’s description of Eden and Ezekiel’s temple. [Ezekiel 28.13/40-48] This beautiful bride is contrasted with the previous harlot who prostituted herself with the beast. Whereas the priestly garments of the Old Covenant had 12 different stones, each with a name of one of the 12 tribes engraved upon it [Exodus 28.17-21], John sees the New Jerusalem built on a foundation of 12 different stones, each with a name of the one of the 12 apostles engraved upon it. Since the New Jerusalem is the Church, it has no temple within it, because the Church is the temple of God, and God resides within the New Jerusalem. In fact, just as this city is a cube – the holy of holies in the OT was a cube – 15x15x15 feet for one man – now much larger for all the saints. John sees that the wicked are not allowed into the New Jerusalem, corresponding to the fact that only those who believe in Christ and repent of their sins become members of the Church, which is the Body of Christ.
Chapter 22: John sees the river of life (Jesus’ salvation) flowing from the throne of God and of Jesus. He also sees the tree of life (eternal life) bearing fruit each month, corresponding to the Church’s growing numbers over time. He states that the tree’s leaves are “for the healing of the nations”, corresponding to how the gospel of Jesus Christ brings healing to mankind. John states that only the “those who wash their robes” [in the blood of Jesus: Revelation 7.14] may enter the New Jerusalem, corresponding to the fact that only those believe in Christ and repent of their sins become members of the Church, which is the Body of Christ. The New Jerusalem, as depicted in Revelation 21-22, is a present reality for the Church [Galatians 4.22-31; Hebrews 12.22], made real by the sacrifice of Christ, but it also awaits perfect fulfillment at the Second Coming.
I am always open handed in learning more - it is a very complex book.
The issue of Israel and the Church is another topic that would take a few hours to really discuss with integrity. I hope the above is helpful for you in understanding my perspective.