Religious Zionists strive to gradually make Israel more religious. Rav Kook controversially explains why despite our aforementioned desire, it was davka beneficial that many of the early active Zionists, at the forefront: Herzl, were clearly non-religious & often even "anti". Rav Kook explains how the religious in exile tended to be passive not pragmatic. Also, in the heated debate: should we wait passively for God to redeem us, or should we hasten the redemption, the secular solved the issue by simply, not asking the rabbis! Similarly historically, most of the Jews were already beginning to assimilate, & the redemption is for all of Israel & mankind, not just for the religious. Secular Zionism was relevant even to the non-believing.
There's a common scenario, where someone becomes a Ba'al Teshuva, strengthening himself religiously, & indirectly, davka becomes less Zionist! Rav Kook ironically deals with this issue way before it was common, as part of his overall & innovative understanding of Teshuva, in this classic letter to his student, R. Charlap. Explaining that the concept of Evolution is the basis of Creation, & that constant improvement is the most natural process for the individual & mankind. This central drive is what's behind most of Torah, life and goals. Zionism is the easiest way to see God today, thru how He runs processes of advancement in history, fulfills prophecies, returns Altruism and Nationalism to their proper place, reviving the "Or LaGoyim" etc.
Most shuls declare weekly in the prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel, that it is the "Atchalta DeGe'ula", the beginning of the national redemption, but the obvious question is: "Can we be sure?!" Could Zionism simply be another "false messiah"? Or in other words, can we be sure that there won't be another exile? This she'ur convincingly proves in 3 concise points gleaned from many classic sources, that in fact, we are in "Y'mot HaMashiach", the historic period of national redemption, and that "Children of Israel, our Father wants us Home".
In our time when so many of the prophecies of our holy prophets have been fulfilled in exactitude in our lives and in front of our eyes, there really should be little if any doubt left as to the veracity of the remaining prophecies currently yet unfulfilled.
Even in the "slap" that Hashem gives us, there is a measure of his relationship with us. This is similar to a father who might hit his son who ran into the road, because he loves him and wants him to be safe.
The exile was an active decisions of G-d, the result of which was a state of hester panim for the nation. Those who choose to come and live in the Land today and fulfill the prophecies of yore – merit to return to the protective gaze of Hashem Himself.