One of the most recognizable symbols of the LDS Church is the placement of the angel Moroni atop our modern temples. Interestingly enough, eight temples are not crowned with the statue: St. George, Logan, Manti, Laie Hawaii, Cardston, Mesa, Hamilton New Zealand, and Oakland.
Most Moroni statues adorning our temples point due east, however, the Seattle, Nauvoo, and Taipei Taiwan temples all have statues facing west. This is likely due to the orientation of their respective lots and/or the placement of their spires. While there is obviously no Church standard for Moroni’s easterly pointing direction, the symbolism is quite rich.
Members of the Church will frequently explain to their non-member friends, or in Church classes, that Moroni is often pointed east in reference to Christ who is to return from the east. The scriptural background stems partly from Matthew 24:27:
“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
Joseph Smith provided us with a more correct version wherein he replaced “lightning” with “light of the morning” (see Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:26). Lightning out of the east is meteorologically incorrect in the Holy Land, as lightning typically originates in the west, as with all storm clouds and precipitation from the Mediterranean. Without any training in Near Eastern weather patterns, Joseph correctly amended the KJV to reflect that as the sun comes from the east, so will the Savior at his second coming.
But this is not the only symbolism which can be inferred from Moroni’s eastward orientation. Moroni may also point east to symbolically reflect certain events surrounding Earth’s first temple, Eden.
Eden represented God’s presence, a holy place where He could dwell, quite similar to its modern temple equivalent. “[T]he Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden,” (Gen. 2:8) where he originally placed man. “[I]n the midst of the garden”, indicating a sacred center, he also placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life (Gen. 2:9). Thus, there was a garden placed in the eastern part of God’s presence, or Eden, wherein man and the two trees were situated. Although a frequent visitor, there is no indication that God resided in Eden's Garden permanently.
[As a side note, it is interesting that “a river went out of Eden to water the garden” (Gen. 2:10). God provides the living water that gives life, vitality, and meaning to eternal life, or the tree of life.]
After partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve were driven to the east out of the Garden of Eden:
“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Gen. 3:24) (emphasis added)
Accordingly, so that Adam and Eve could not westerly return to the Garden and partake of the tree of life and forever live in their sins, God placed “cherubim” (Moses 4:31, the correct plural) and a flaming sword at the east gate, or entrance (compare Alma 12:21). The east side of the Garden is seemingly the place of sacred entry, as it is with many modern and ancient holy sanctuaries.
It was “the way” [Hebrew = derek, meaning “a pathway”] of the tree of life that the cherubic host and flaming sword were to guard. Evidently, “the way” connected to a sacred roadway that approached the Garden on its east side. Could the cherubim represent the “angels who stand as sentinels” to whom we must give the proper “key words,  signs and tokens” to be able to “walk to the presence of the Father” (Discourses of Brigham Young, pg. 416)?
Later, Adam and Eve went to a certain spot, likely on the east side of the Garden where the gate was located, to pray and worship:
“And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence” (Moses 5:4).
Although they were unable to see God, being shut out from his presence, Adam and Eve could speak with the Lord through the veil as he remained in “the way” toward the Garden. Interestingly, Cain and his family settled “east of Eden” in an apparent attempt to also remain close to the gate leading into the Garden (Gen. 4:16).
In an obvious representation of the Garden temple, Moses was commanded to emblazon cherubim on the “curtains” (i.e., veil) of the tabernacle in the wilderness (Ex. 26:1), wherein the curtains were to guard the way to the Holy of Holies (i.e., God’s presence). Why don’t we have cherubim on the veils of the temples today? Because the veil was rent upon Christ’s victory over death (Matt. 27:51), thus removing all obstacles for us to be redeemed from the Fall. Now that all obstacles are removed, we are to “hav[e] boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, . . . through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Heb. 10:19-20).
So, why does Moroni point east, then? In my opinion, it is because we, as types for Adam and Eve, are cast out from God’s presence to the east. Moroni sits atop the edifice that represents God’s presence and declares unto us symbolically residing in the east the everlasting gospel and invites us all to return westward, from whence we came (Rev. 14:6-7). With trumpet in hand, Moroni announces to us that "the way" is now freely open for us to attain eternal life, and he invites us to worship God. Where can we better worship our Heavenly Father than in his presence, the temple?