Since the story is mythological in nature, modern scholars have questioned its historicity. However, Jesus compared himself with Jonah (Matt 12:39-41). We read in 2 Kings 14:25 that he is a son of Amittai from the village of Gath Hepher. These descriptions supports it historicity.
The first phrase in Jonah 1:1 describes a historical context in the nation of Israel, when God was speaking to people through specially chosen individuals. The first phrase can be literally translated as "there was Word of the Lord." It describes a presence of the Word of the Lord in contrast to absence.
The Word of the Lord came personally to Jonah. It was a personal commission for Jonah to become a prophet among the people he despised. And yet his commission was to stand up and go.
Most of the commissions in the Bible are about going (cf. Gen 12:1 and Matt 28:19). The commissioning is about going to a place chosen by God, not necessarily a place of comfort. Jonah was ordered to go to Nineveh
Nineveh was a not a place of tourism for the people of Israel. It was a wicked city. It was an important city because the King of Assyria lived there. Jonah was asked to go to Nineveh because it's wickedness had come up before Yahweh. Jonah's commission was to preach against the wickedness of the city.
All injustice, immorality, and corruption violate the order of God. They are against the holy attributes of God. The standing commission of a prophet is to preach against it.
However, Jonah was a reluctant prophet. In verse 3, we read But Jonah ran away from the LORD. Jonah was spiritually sensitive to hear the word of God. He was intellectually qualified to discern the mandate and decide to disobey. He was not a religious pervert, atheists, or agnostic. Perhaps, he was a prominent evangelical leader of that time.
It is possible that one may be spiritually awake, intelligent, prominent and yet reluctant. Like Jonah, we may be running away from God just because it uncomfortable to obey Him. We need to examine ourselves and turn back to Him. May God bless help us.