Many wonder why the redemption began with Zionism & nationalism rather than with "observing 1 Shabbat"? Rav Kook explain that humility is the most important trait, see Moshe Rabbenu and all the mussar classics. Similarly, altruism- selfless giving, is the reason for creation, that even God wants to be altruistic, although this doesn't infer that He lacks anything, for altruism is, by definition, giving without gain. The national framework of living in a Jewish State where everyone is Jewish, sacrificing 3 years in the army & even one's life if needed, obligated chessed to each & every person, saving water, giving "tremps" to eachother, etc. help us rise above our personal smallness to a life of ideals & constant giving, altruism= Godliness.
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.